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Pandora Papers: I’ve never had business dealings with Kola Aluko, says Oyetola

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Gboyega Oyetola, governor of Osun, says he was never involved in the purchase of a mansion in London from a company belonging to Kola Aluko, a Nigerian businessman who is being tried for money laundering.

Leaked files, which were reportedly retrieved from 14 offshore service firms around the world and revealed in a Pandora Papers project led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), and which Premium Times is a part of, had shown that in July 2013, the property with title number 340992, was bought for £11.95 million by Zavlil Holdings Ltd, a shell company incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, a tax haven.

Zavlil Holdings Limited is reportedly owned by Aluko, an ally of Diezani Alison-Madueke, former minister of petroleum resources, who has been the subject of various investigations in Nigeria and abroad for allegedly taking part in shady oil contracts.

According to Premium Times, documents obtained from the UK property register revealed that in 2017, Mr Aluko “sold the house for £9 million to Aranda Overseas Corporation, an offshore company incorporated in the British Virgins Island by two of Mr Tinubu’s most trusted surrogates – Adegboyega Oyetola, formerly chair of Paragon Group of Companies and incumbent governor of Osun State, and Elusanmi Eludoyin, Mr Oyetola’s successor at Paragon”.

The newspaper also reported that the governor, who became a shareholder and director of Aranda, did not resign his position even while he served as chief of staff to his predecessor, Rauf Aregbesola.

But reacting in a statement by his chief press secretary, Ismail Omipidan,Oyetola said he resigned from his position at the company when he became a government official and never bought the said mansion.

“We have seen reports in some online media platforms concerning the Pandora Papers’ allegations. This is, therefore, to set the record straight,” the statement reads.

“Mr Adegboyega Oyetola, governor of Osun State, resigned his directorship of Aranda Overseas Corporation in 2011, when he took up the political appointment. He also surrendered his shareholding of the same company.

“Since 2011 to date, he has had no association, dealings and business transactions with the said company, as he is neither a director nor a shareholder of the said company. He, therefore, could not have acquired the said property in 2017, either directly or through the said company as being alleged.

“As a matter of fact, Oyetola has no relationship or link with the alleged owner of the property, Mr Kolawole Aluko, let alone go into a business dealing or transaction with him.

“He also complied fully with the law of the land by exiting Global Investments Offshore Ltd. as a Director in 2011, upon his appointment as the Chief of Staff to the immediate past governor of Osun State, Rauf Aregbesola.”

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World Bank blacklists 17 Nigerians, firms over corrupt practices

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The World Bank has disqualified nine Nigerian individuals and firms from executing any contract with it for engaging in corrupt, fraudulent and collusive practices.

Eight Nigerian companies debarred by the African Development Bank (AfDB) were also recognised by World Bank under the cross-debarment policy.

Cross-debarment is the recognition of debarment decisions by signatories to the Agreement for Mutual Enforcement of Debarment Decisions on the same terms as the initial decision.

This is contained in its recent report titled ‘Sanctions System Annual Report for Fiscal Year 2021’.

This report covers the Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) — from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021 — and was prepared by the offices of the World Bank Group’s (WBG) sanctions system.

The report stated, “In the fiscal year 2021, the World Bank Group sanctioned 57 firms and individuals, of which 54 were debarred with conditional release, making them ineligible to participate in projects and operations financed by institutions of the World Bank Group. In addition, three firms were sanctioned with conditional non-debarment, leaving them eligible to participate in World Bank Group-financed operations after meeting certain agreed-upon conditions.

“The institution also recognised 92 cross-debarments from other multilateral development banks (MDBs), while 45 World Bank Group debarments were eligible for recognition by other MDB.”

They are Sangtech International Services Limited, Sangar & Associates (Nigeria) Limited, Mashad Integrated And Investment Co Limited, and Medniza Global Merchants Limited — all banned for two years.

Others are ALG Global Concept Nigeria Limited, Abuharaira Labaran Gero, Qualitrends Global Solutions Nigeria Limited, and Maxicare Company Nigeria Limited. These firms are ineligible to participate in projects and operations financed by institutions of the World Bank for three years.

Commenting on the report, World Bank President, David Malpass, said; “The World Bank Group is firmly committed to placing governance, anti-corruption and transparency front and centre in our work. A stable, respected rule of law is essential to good development outcomes. An important piece of our anti-corruption efforts is the World Bank Group’s sanctions system.”

He said that since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Bank Group had deployed more than $157 billion in critical assistance to developing countries.

“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,” he said.

“And that means remaining vigilant to the scourge of corruption and ensuring that we promote the highest integrity and transparency standards in public finance.”

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eNaira: FG targets $29bn from blockchain, digital currency

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Digital currency and its underlying technology, blockchain, can increase Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product by $29 billion in the next 10 years, President Muhammadu Buhari has said.

He stated this in Abuja on Monday at the unveiling of eNaira, stressing that Nigeria’s digital currency would help move people and businesses from the informal into the formal sector and increase the tax base of the country.

He said eNaira would cater for businesses and households seeking faster and cheaper means of payment instead of “private currencies” that have gained popularity and acceptance across the world, including Nigeria.

The President said, “In recent times, Your Excellencies, the use of physical cash in conducting business and making payments has been on the decline. This trend has been exacerbated by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resurgence of a new Digital Economy.

“Alongside these developments, businesses, households, and other economic agents have sought new means of making payments in the new circumstances.

“The absence of a swift and effective solution to these requirements, as well as fears that Central Banks’ actions sometimes lead to hyperinflation created the space for non-government entities to establish new forms of ‘private currencies’ that seemed to have gained popularity and acceptance across the world, including here in Nigeria.

“In response to these developments, an overwhelming majority of Central Banks across the world have started to consider issuing digital currencies in order to cater for businesses and households seeking faster, safer, easier and cheaper means of payments.”

Buhari added that the benefits of digital currencies cut across different sectors of and concerns of the economy.

He said, “Let me note that aside from the global trend to create Digital Currencies, we believe that there are Nigeria-specific benefits that cut across different sectors of and concerns of the economy.

“Alongside digital innovations, Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) can foster economic growth through better economic activities. Indeed, some estimates indicate that the adoption of CBDC and its underlying technology, called blockchain, can increase Nigeria’s GDP by US$29 billion over the next 10 years.

“CBDCs can also help increase remittances, foster cross border trade, improve financial inclusion, make Monetary Policy more effective, and enable the government to send direct payments to citizens eligible for specific welfare programmes.

“It is on this basis that I am delighted to officially launch the Central Bank of Nigeria Digital Currency, called the eNaira, and in so doing, we have become the first country in Africa and one of the first in the world to introduce a Digital Currency to her citizens.”

governor of the CBN, Godwin Emefiele, said the eNaira would make a significant positive difference to Nigeria and Nigerians.

The apex bank rolled out two applications for the digital currency on Monday — eNaira speed wallet and eNaira merchant wallet.

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As Buhari launches eNaira, CBN unveils 100 for 100 financial instrument

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President Muhammadu Buhari has launched the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) digital currency, the e-Naira.
While launching the digital currency, at the State House,Abuja, this afternoon, the president commended the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, for his efforts towards ensuring a more efficient payment system in the country.
In his address, Emefiele announced a new financial instrument titled “The 100 for 100 PPP – Policy on Production and Productivity,” to reduce the nation’s overdependence on imports.
According to the governor, the instrument, “will be anchored in our Development Finance Department under my direct supervision.
“Under this policy the CBN will advertise, screen, scrutinize and financially support 100 targeted private sector companies in 100 days, beginning from 01 November 2021, and rolling over every 100 days with new set of 100 companies, whose names will be published in National Dailies for Nigerians to verify and confirm.

“The purpose of this instrument is to take further steps to reverse our over reliance on imports.”

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