EFCC Clears Soludo From Polymer Notes’ Bribe Scandal

By Chris Nomjov

Former Central Bank governor and proven economist, Prof. Charles Chukwuma Soludo has been acquainted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Monday, after finding no wrong dealings on his part,  regarding investigations into allegations of bribery involving Securency Pty Ltd of Australia and officials of both the CBN and the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting (NSPM) Plc over the supply of polymer substrate to Nigeria.

At a press conference in Abuja, EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Lamorde, said after extensive investigation, the commission found that Mr. Soludo had nothing to do with the matter.

Saying no wrongdoing was established against him, the EFCC boss said the former CBN governor has since been cleared.

Following the October 1, 2009 launch of the polymer bank notes in Nigeria, which saw the N5, N10, and N50 notes remade in polymer material as against the original paper version, a scandal broke that CBN and NSPM officials received bribes to effect the switch to polymer.

In January 2013, the EFCC summoned Mr. Soludo (as Governor of CBN and chairman of the Board of NSPM at the time the alleged offence was committed) to clarify matters and state what he knew about the matter.

The former CBN Governor consistently denied any wrongdoing. When he was contacted on Monday, Mr. Soludo said, “I am impressed by the professionalism of the Commission especially in making the result of its investigation public. In early November last year (2014), I wrote to the Commission demanding for the outcome of the investigation, and it replied stating that its investigation did not establish any culpability on my part. I simply put the letter in my file.

“Well, I always knew that there was nothing to it as far as I was concerned, and I did not know anything about the said allegations. What impresses me is that the Chairman and the Commission have displayed professional integrity by making its findings public especially in the light of the negative publicity that attended my invitation and interview at the Commission in January 2013. I left office six years ago, and I believe that this is good for Nigeria.”

NEXT, the now rested Nigerian newspaper, had reported extensively how Securency Pty, a bank note printing company owned by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), engaged in a series of bribery schemes to secure polymer note printing jobs.

According to the paper, as well as an Australian newspaper, The Age, at least N750 million was paid in bribes to some Nigerian officials between 2006 and 2008 to secure the contract which saw to the initial supply of about 1.9 billion pieces of polymer substrates on which bank notes were printed.

Subsequently, several international investigations over the activities of the bank note company led to the arrest, prosecution as well as sack of several top management staff of the RBA and its sister company, Securency Pty.

In its own investigation, Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency, the EFCC interrogated several officials of the CBN and NSPM.

But while no official of the Central Bank has so far been indicted, the commission is in court with a former Managing Director of the NSPM, Ehi Okoyomon, over the request to extradite him to the United Kingdom to face prosecution over some findings related to the allegations.

The U.K. had sought the extradition of Mr. Okoyomon over his alleged role in the bribery scheme allegedly executed between 2006 and 2008.

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