Reps summon FIRS over ‘$30bn revenue leakages’

The house of representatives’ joint committees on finance and banking and currency have commenced a probe into revenue leakages causing the federal government to lose $30 billion between 2005 and 2019.

There has been concern over poor remittance of revenue into the federation account.

Speaking at a hearing on Monday, Abiodun Faleke, chairman of the finance committee, said the probe targets agencies and companies in banking, oil exploration, engineering, procurement, construction, installation, marine transportations, manufacturing and telecommunications.

Faleke said the joint committee also noticed infractions in “the inflow of foreign investments, like equity, foreign cash loans, equipment loans whose utilisations are majorly subject to tax, end up in transactions, foreign transfers that were at variance with the purpose of such inflows”.

“Overnight and fictitious disappearance of Naira proceeds of foreign inflows from the bank accounts of Nigerian beneficiaries, and subsequent allocations of foreign exchange by CBN for Capital repatriations, Principal loan repayments and interest payments,” he said.

“Multiple foreign exchange allocations to holders of foreign inflow Certificates of Capital Importation (CCI) over and above the amount brought into the country, leading to the capital flight of the country’s much needed and scarce foreign exchange.

“Some expected imports that were funded by foreign equipment loans and other direct allocations of foreign exchange for foreign exchange valid transactions were neither translated to imports nor their import duties paid to the Nigerian Customs Service.”

The committees also queried Citibank for failing to remit money from tax earnings into the federation account.

“I am more concerned about the supporting documents. It is not that if you have done this or not done that. It is supporting documents and what the government ought to have benefited in terms of taxes. That is the essence of this investigation,” Faleke said.

“If the government ought to have benefited N100 million — have the government benefited that N100 million? What of your companies is still liable or has not paid, or you have not deducted the tax.”

Ngozi Omoke-Enyi, director of operations at Citibank, denied the accusation, saying the bank followed the financial regulations in all its transactions.

“We have reviewed all the allegations and the transactions mentioned in the report sent to us, and we want to affirm again that we were not in any way in contravention of any of the guidelines in the Act or the Foreign exchange manual,” she said.

The committee, however, gave the bank seven days to provide evidence and documents to back up its claims.

The panel also queried Fidelity Bank on issues relating to revenue leakages, but Imam Hassan, executive director, north, denied wrongdoing.

The committee chairman ruled that the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) should appear before the panel to explain the circumstances behind unremitted tax revenue by the companies.


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