By Christiana Ekpa
The Chairman Senate Committee on Customs, Excise and Tariff and Marine Transport, senator Hope Uzodinma has revealed that, the Senate will publish names of companies allegedly involved in the N30 trillion revenue scam of import and export value chain.
Our Correspondent reports that, the joint committee was mandated by Senate to carry out holistic investigation into alleged N30 trillion revenue leakages in foreign exchange and the entire import and export value chain between 2006 and 2017 The committee was also mandated to identify leakages and irregularities in the system and come up with recommendations that would block further leakages and strengthen the revenue drive of the Nigeria Customs Service.
The committee in it interim report presented to the senate on Oct 18, said it had so far recovered N140 billion.
The report indicated that some collection banks had made remittances to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to the tune of N128 billion with evidence of payment and receipt received by the committee.
It further indicated that some of the 60 companies made voluntary payment of over N12 billion to government based on internal self-audit after receiving documented evidence of culpability from the committee.
The report also indicated that the committee identified 32 leakage channels as the major sources of revenue loss in the import-export value chain including undervaluation, wrong tariff classification, abuse of waivers and concessions among others.
Uzodinma who revealed this in an interview with newsmen on Sunday, said the Upper Chamber is set to publish names of companies found culpable in investigation into alleged N30 trillion revenue scam.
He said the committee had completed its first batch of investigation involving over 60 companies and would publish names of companies involved in various infractions leading to loss of government revenue.
He said the committee was releasing the names because it had established culpability against the companies.
Uzodinma stressed that, the names of the companies involved will be published alongside with the details of how much of recoverable government revenue was with each of the companies.
The lawmaker added that companies found to be involved in infractions bothering on money laundering and foreign exchange abuses would be referred to Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for prosecution and recovery of the monies.
According to him, those bothering on smuggling and import infractions would be referred to the Nigeria Customs Service for recovery of such revenues and possibly blacklisting of the companies.
“We have gotten up to the point that even the companies themselves have seen that they are culpable and that is why we want to publish the names and hand them over to EFCC and Customs. The reason for the delay in publishing the names all the while is to establish culpability against the companies.
“Now through various reconciliations, it has been established and we are no longer in doubt, including the companies that are involved, that these things are in existence and that they are culpable.
“We have presented the interim report which detailed how much we have recovered so far and the Senate approved it in plenary, while an extension was given to us to do the final reconciliation.
“We do not want emphasis to continue to be on how much we have recovered even though it is contained in the report. We want those companies found culpable to go to government and make payments,’’ he said.
He further said, $some of the companies have started paying while others have not. None of them have fully paid what we have established against them.
“Since they have started paying, we will now transfer the matter to the Customs, who will now do a recovery schedule with the companies that are willing voluntarily to pay what is due to government.
“By the time the names are published, Nigerians and the Federal Government will know which company is owing what and the relevant agencies will go after them to recover the money.’’
The chairman said that the committee would commence the second batch of investigation after some oversight visits to establish culpability.
He assured that the committee would not be deterred in its effort to assist government in recovering monies meant for the development of the economy.
He stressed that the legislature would continue to use its constitutional powers to assist the executive in blocking leakages and increasing revenue generation, particularly in the non-oil sector.
Uzodinma said it was appalling that in spite of government’s effort to improve revenue generation to meet the country’s developmental needs, a set of people were involved in acts capable of jeopardizing such effort.