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18 Nigerian Firms, Individuals Blacklisted By World Bank Over Corruption

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18 Nigerian Firms, Individuals Blacklisted By World Bank Over Corruption
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18 Nigerian Firms, Individuals Blacklisted By World Bank Over Corruption

The World Bank has blacklisted 18 Nigerian individuals and firms for engaging in corrupt practices, fraud and collusive practices in its 2021 fiscal year 2021, a new report has revealed.

A list of debarred individuals and firms was presented in a new annual report titled World Bank Group Sanctions System FY21.

The debarments were made by the World Bank Sanctions Board, World Bank Chief Suspension and Debarment Officer and the African Development Bank.

The debarments made by AfDB were recognised by World Bank, making the affected firms to be barred under cross-debarment policy.

Based on the World Bank Sanctions Board’s decision, Mr. Elie Abou Ghazaleh and Mr. Fadi Abou Ghazaleh, alongside their firm, Abou Ghazaleh Contracting Nigeria Limited, were debarred for six months for collusive practices.

Based on the decision of the World Bank Chief Suspension and Debarment Officer, a Nigerian firm, Swansea Tools Resources, was debarred for fraudulent practices for two years and 10 months.

Referred to under Sanctions Case No 651, it was disclosed that the firm misrepresented its past experience in its bid for a road maintenance contract.

The report read in part, “The SDO determined that the respondent, a Nigerian firm, engaged in a fraudulent practice by misrepresenting its past experience in its bid for a road maintenance contract under a state employment and expenditure project in Nigeria. The SDO imposed on the respondent a debarment with conditional release for a minimum period of two years and 10 months. As a mitigating factor, the SDO considered the respondent’s limited cooperation with investigators, noting that the respondent produced documents and agreed to be interviewed but did not accept responsibility for the misconduct.”

Another Nigerian firm, Juckon Construction and Allied Services Nigeria Limited, was debarred for corrupt practices for three years. Referred to under Sanctions Case No 649, it was disclosed that the firm made improper payment to a public official.

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The report read, “The SDO determined that the respondent, a Nigerian firm, engaged in a corrupt practice by making an improper payment to a public official in connection with the award and/or execution of two waste management and refuse collection contracts under a state employment and expenditure project in Nigeria. The SDO imposed on the respondent a debarment with conditional release for a minimum period of four years.”

18 Nigerian Firms, Individuals Blacklisted By World Bank Over Corruption

A Nigerian, Ms. Okafor Glory, was debarred for fraudulent practices for four years, while the firm involved, Unique Concept Enterprises, was debarred for five years for same reason.

Another Nigerian firm, Asbeco Nigeria Limited, was debarred for five years for corrupt practices.

The matter which involved Ms. Glory and the firm, Unique Concept Enterprises, was presented under Sanctions Case No 691.

It read in part, “The SDO determined that the respondents, a Nigerian firm and a Nigerian citizen, engaged in fraudulent practices by submitting false documents in connection with two refuse collection and disposal contracts under a state employment and expenditure project in Nigeria. In particular, the SDO found that: (i) the corporate respondent submitted a falsified income tax clearance certificate in its bids for the contracts; and (ii) both respondents submitted a falsified advance payment guarantee in connection with the execution of one of the contracts.

“The SDO imposed on the corporate respondent a debarment with conditional release for a minimum period of five years. On the individual respondent, the SDO imposed a debarment with conditional release for a minimum period of four years. As aggravating factors, the SDO considered that (i) the corporate respondent engaged in a repeated pattern of misconduct, and (ii) the individual respondent was the managing director of the corporate respondent.”

The matter which involved Asbeco Nigeria was presented under Sanctions Case No 675.

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It read in part, “The SDO determined that the respondent, a Nigerian firm, engaged in corrupt practices in connection with an erosion control contract under an erosion and watershed management project in Nigeria. Specifically, the SDO found that the respondent (i) made a payment of N2m (approximately $12,000) to the project’s engineer to influence his actions in connection with the procurement and/or execution of the contract, and (ii) made a facilitation payment of N50,000 (approximately $160) to the project’s cashier to influence her actions in connection with the execution of the same contract.

“The SDO imposed on the respondent a debarment with conditional release for a minimum period of five years. In determining this sanction, the SDO considered as aggravating factors the respondent’s (i) engagement in a repeated pattern of corrupt activity and (ii) interference with INT’s investigation, noting in particular that the respondent engaged in acts intended to materially impede the exercise of the Bank’s contractual audit rights.”

Based on the World Bank’s Sanctions Board Decision, A.G. Vision Construction Nigeria Limited, was debarred for fraudulent practices and collusive practices for four years and six months.

Not included in the report is a recent debarment of a Nigerian consultant, Mr Salihu Tijani, who is a consultant for the National Social Safety Nets Project, a project designed to ensure cash transfers to poor and vulnerable households in Nigeria.

Tijani was barred for 38 months for engaging in corrupt practices.

Aside from the firms mentioned so far, there are some firms that were debarred by other multilateral organisations under cross-debarment, which makes them debarred by the World Bank.

Sangtech International Services Limited, Sangar & Associates (Nigeria) Limited, Mashad Integrated And Investment Co Limited, and Medniza Global Merchants Limited were debarred by the AfDB two years under cross-debarment recognised by the World Bank.

ALG Global Concept Nigeria Limited, Abuharaira Labaran Gero, Qualitrends Global Solutions Nigeria Limited, and Maxicare Company Nigeria Limited were debarred by the AfDB for three years under cross-debarment recognised by the World Bank.

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In his opening message in the report, the World Bank Group’s David Malpass, stated that the bank had granted over $157bn to assist developing countries, as he emphasised the need for integrity and transparency standards in public finance.

18 Nigerian Firms, Individuals Blacklisted By World Bank Over Corruption

“Since the beginning of the global pandemic, the World Bank Group has deployed more than $157bn in critical assistance to developing countries. The crisis has required us to be rapid and innovative in mobilising this historic support.

“Yet, for these resources to have the needed development impact on the hundreds of millions of people who live in extreme poverty, we must ensure that resources are used efficiently, effectively, and for their intended purposes. And that means remaining vigilant to the scourge of corruption and ensuring that we promote the highest integrity and transparency standards in public finance,” he said.

He further highlighted some of the consequences of corruption, which he said could be devastating.

Malpass said, “The negative impacts of corruption on lives and livelihoods are well known. Corruption diverts scarce development dollars from the people who need them most and corrodes the systems and services that are integral for reducing extreme poverty.

“Entrenched corruption also comes with greater economic costs for countries, as it distorts public expenditures and leads to inefficient allocations of financing away from productive investments toward rent-seeking activities. And corruption increases the costs of doing business and deters foreign investors from entering new markets.

“As the world moves toward recovering from the pandemic’s damaging impacts, these costs can also restrict the private sector, which plays an important role in revitalizing economic growth and development in our client countries,” he added.

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Petrol May Sell Above ₦340/Litre, Marketers Plan Imports Amidst Forex Crisis

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Petrol May Sell Above ₦340/Litre, Marketers Plan Imports Amidst Forex Crisis
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Petrol May Sell Above ₦340/Litre, Marketers Plan Imports Amidst Forex Crisis

The pump price of Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol, may go higher than the projected N340/litre in February 2022 when the Federal Government removes its subsidy on the commodity, oil marketers said on Tuesday.

Also, it was gathered that both independent and major oil marketers were perfecting plans to resume PMS imports once the government halts the subsidy regime.

They, however, expressed worry over the fluctuation in foreign exchange rates and how this would impact on petrol price next year.

For about four years, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited has been the sole importer of petrol into Nigeria. Marketers stopped importing the commodity due to their inability to effectively access the United States dollar for imports.

Last week, the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mele Kyari, announced at a World Bank event in Abuja that petrol would sell for between N320 and N340 per litre from February 2022 by which time the Federal Government have removed the subsidy.

He explained that Nigeria would be out of the subsidy regime in the first quarter of next year, stressing that subsidy would have been eliminated this year but was stalled due to certain conditions.

The current pump price of petrol at filing stations is between N162 and N165/litre, although the product is mostly sold at the upper N165/litre rate due to recent challenges in the downstream oil sector.

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But marketers told our correspondent on Tuesday that the cost of petrol would be higher than the projected N320 – N340/litres if there was no improvement in the foreign exchange rate.

Dealers under the aegis of Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria and Petroleum Products Retail Outlets owners Association of Nigeria stated that though they were set to import petrol, the cost of the commodity would be high in February.

IPMAN and PETROAN members own bulk of the filling stations across the country and currently make purchases from depots before selling to final consumers at their various retail outlets.

“Yes, if there is no subsidy, some marketers can import, but the only thing is that it will be costly. The price will be higher than the projected cost because of the exchange rate,” the National Vice President, IPMAN, Abubakar Maigandi, stated.

He added, “The challenge of accessing forex will definitely affect imports because over 90 per cent of petrol that will be consumed across the country will depend on importation. Also this is because the refineries are not functioning.”

The National Public Relations Officer, IPMAN, Chief Ukadike Chinedu, also stated that the foreign exchange rate would determine the cost of petrol from next year after subsidy removal.

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He said, “If the Federal Government says there is no going back on subsidy removal this time round, which is a challenge that has dragged on for about 30 years, then it means that they are going to liberalise the market.

“By liberalising the market it will now help independent and major marketers to be able to freely import petroleum products from any source so that products will be available in Nigeria.”

He added, “However, it is pertinent to note the forces of demand and supply will determine the price of the commodity in Nigeria. So literally, whatever the dollar rate is in the international and local markets will pose the actual challenge to marketers

“The issue of black market and official exchange rates is a serious challenge that we foresee. But we believe that the Federal Government is doing something by meeting with the bureau d’change operators on this, so that whatever is obtainable at the banks is what you get in the open market.”

On whether the forex issue could lead to a higher price than the projected N340/litre, Chinedu replied, “Aside from the adverse effects of the removal of subsidy on the wellbeing of Nigerians, we will, of course, see a price that is higher than what they project.

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“The price will be higher. It will be higher because the dollar to a large extent determines the price of petroleum products. If the dollar goes up, the price of petrol will increase, and vice versa.”

The President PETROAN, Billy Gillis-Harry, confirmed the position of IPMAN, as he, however, explained that members of his association were ready to import the commodity.

He said, “At PETROAN we already have a vehicle that is in place to start importation petroleum products, gas and other products. We encourage the government to completely remove subsidy.

On the possibility of higher pump price than the projected N340/litre, Gillis-Harry said, “That is why we said that every single thing about petroleum products should be premised on the forces of the market.

“The forces of demand and supply should determine the price.”

The spokesperson of NNPC, Garba-Deen Muhammad, told our correspondent that the issue of petrol pricing was not the function of the oil firm.

“Price issues are policy matters. NNPC does not fix price, it has no mandate. It operates in the sector as a business concern governed by CAMA Laws,” he stated.

Marketers, however, urged the government to consider carrying out programmes that would help ameliorate the plights to be faced by consumers when it eventually puts an end to petrol subsidy.

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MTN Nigeria launches sale of shares to Nigerians

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MTN Nigeria launches sale of shares to Nigerians

MTN Nigeria Plc (MTN) has announced the trial of e-SIM services on its network based on approvals received from the Federal Government.

MTN Nigeria Communications Plc (MTNN) has announced the price of its initial public offering to retail investors.

The company is making 575 million of its shares available to the public at N169 per unit, the telecoms heavyweight said on Tuesday.

Sales will open at 8:00 am on December 1 and close at 5:00 pm on December 14. It is the first time the company will invite subscriptions from the public nearly two years after it debuted on the Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX).

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MTNN made the disclosure in a statement on the NGX website, signed by Company Secretary Uto Ukpanah and seen by newsmen.

“The minimum subscription is for 20 shares and lots of 20 shares thereafter. The offer includes an incentive in the form of 1 free share for every 20 shares purchased, subject to a maximum of 250 free shares per investor,” he said.

“The incentive is open to retail investors who buy and hold the shares allotted to them for at least 12 months, post the allotment date.”

This retail offer will be delivered via a digital platform, the first in Nigeria. By using the power of technology, the telco intends to facilitate the maximum possible participation by Nigerian investors, MTNN said.

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Commenting on the price announcement, MTN Nigeria’s Chief Executive Officer, Karl Toriola, said: “The success and growth of MTN Nigeria is intrinsically linked to that of Nigeria and Nigerians. Therefore, we are very excited to offer Nigerians the opportunity to own shares in MTN Nigeria.”

“Our journey to becoming the largest network in Nigeria has been humbling, but we still have a long way to go. There is much more to do to support the evolution of an inclusive digital economy, and we continue to invest as we evolve into a truly digital operator, capable of seamlessly integrating value across the evolving telecommunications, digital and fintech segments.”

The MTN Group President and Chief Executive Officer, Rolph Mupita, said the offer aligns with MTN Group’s strategic priority to create shared value.

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“In the last 20 years, we have worked diligently to connect 68 million subscribers onto voice and data networks and ensure that we deliver the benefits of modern connected life. With this Offer, we will contribute to the further deepening of Nigeria’s equity capital markets. It is the first in a series of transactions as the MTN Group implements its plans to ensure broad-based ownership by reducing its shareholding in MTN Nigeria to 65% over time.

This move is a broader arrangement to enlarge its market capacity to other African countries including Zambia and Uganda.

MTNN’s shares, listed in Lagos, closed at N190 per unit on Tuesday, recording no movement.

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Cryptocurrencies Bear High Risks – Putin

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Cryptocurrencies Bear High Risks - Putin
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Cryptocurrencies Bear High Risks – Putin

On Tuesday, Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation, voiced his criticism regarding the state of the criticism sector at the “Russian Calling” investment forum in Moscow.

According to local news outlet lenta.ru, the president made the following remarks, as translated: “It is not backed by anything, [and] the volatility is colossal, so the risks are very high. We also believe that we need to listen to those who talk about those high risks.”

Putin called for the greater monitoring and regulation of cryptocurrencies and pointed out that certain countries worldwide are seeing significant adoption of digital currencies. Currently, cryptocurrency regulation is still in its infancy in Russia. Although the government is considering the launch of a central bank digital currency, at least eight federal laws and five legislative codes must be changed for the digital ruble to take effect.

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Cryptocurrencies Bear High Risks – Putin

Furthermore, no regulation exists in the country regarding cryptocurrency mining. This has led some to claim that $2 billion in crypto mining revenue is generated annually in Russia, but on that, no taxes are paid. Due to the lack of a regulatory framework, cryptocurrency use has soared among ordinary Russians, with transactions surpassing $5 billion each year.

In other parts of the former Soviet Union, cryptocurrencies are also rapidly gaining in traction. Kazakhstan has become the world’s largest Bitcoin (BTC) miner by hash rate, and its president is seeking to collect more taxes from such activities to fund the country’s expenses. In Ukraine, the government is actively encouraging legal crypto operations. Last year, the city of Olsztyn, Poland, began adopting the Ethereum (ETH) blockchain for emergency services.

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