The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has arrested five top officials of the Central Bank of Nigeria and 16 others for alleged complicity in a currency fraud running to N8bn.
Revealing this in a statement on Sunday, the Head of Media and Publicity of the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, explained that the others arrested alongside the CBN officials were members of staff of various commercial banks in the country.
He said all the suspects would be arraigned on five counts at the Federal High Court, Ibadan, Oyo State, on June 2, 2015.
According to Uwujaren, the suspects connived to recycle the defaced and mutilated currencies they were asked to destroy by substituting the notes with newspaper cuttings in Naira note sizes.
Uwujaren stated that the operatives of the commission waded into the matter following a petition that the sum of N6.5bn was recycled by a syndicate involving top officials of the CBN in Ibadan, Oyo State.
He said, “The Economic and Financial Crime Commission has concluded arrangement to arraign in court, five top executives of the Central Bank of Nigeria implicated in a mega scam involving the theft and recirculation of defaced and mutilated currencies.
“The suspects, drawn from various business units of the apex bank, are to be docked by the anti-graft agency before a Federal High Court sitting in Ibadan, Oyo State, from Tuesday June 2, 2015 to Thursday June 4, 2015. The remaining 16 suspects are drawn from various commercial banks who were found to have conspired with the CBN executives to swing the heist.
“All the suspects, who are currently in the custody of the EFCC, are now ruing the day they literally allowed greed and craze for materialism to becloud their sense of judgment and responsibility, when they elected to help themselves to tonnes of defaced Naira notes.
“Instead of carrying out the statutory instruction to destroy the currency, they substituted it with newspapers neatly cut to Naira sizes and proceeded to recycle the defaced and mutilated currency.”
He added, “The fraud is partly to blame for the failure of government monetary policy over the years as currency mop up exercises by the apex bank failed to check the inflationary pressure on the economy.
“The lid on the scam, which is widely suspected to have gone on unchecked for years, was blown on November 3, 2014, via a petition to the EFCC, alleging that over N6, 575, 549, 370.00 was cornered and discreetly recycled by light fingered top executives of the CBN at the Ibadan branch.”