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Anti-graft War: Whistle-blowers to Get N2.1bn

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  • Anti-graft War: Whistle-blowers to Get N2.1bn

All things being equal, whistle-blowers are poised to get N2.1bn reward for their whistle-blowing efforts that have led to major discoveries since December 20, 2016 when the policy was inaugurated by the Federal Government, findings revealed.

It was, however, learnt that payment would only be made after the recoveries have been thoroughly investigated by the anti-graft agencies.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, had at the inauguration of the policy, said any Nigerian who gave information leading to the recovery of looted funds would be compensated by up to five per cent of the amount.

He had also laid out the compensation plan, saying informants whose information led to the discovery of up to N1bn would receive five per cent of the amount; those who gave tips leading to the discovery of between N1bn and N5bn would receive five per cent on the first N1bn and four per cent on the remaining N4bn; while those who gave information leading to the recovery of over N5bn would get 2.5 per cent of the amount.

Mohammed had further clarified that those who gave information leading to the recovery of, say, N10bn would get five per cent of N1bn, four per cent of N4bn and 2.5 per cent of the remaining N5bn.

Four months after this policy was launched, the Federal Government has recovered about N71.7bn, with informants entitled to a sum of N2.1bn, experts’ estimates have shown.

For instance, a whistle-blower’s tip had on February 3, 2017 led to the recovery of $9.8m and £74,000, totalling N3bn, belonging to a former Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Andrew Yakubu.

Operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had stormed a building in Sabon Tasha in Kaduna City, where the money was stashed in a huge fire proof safe.

Going by the Federal Government’s compensation plan, the informant is entitled to five per cent of N1bn (N50m) and four per cent of the remaining N2bn (N80m), making a total of N130m.

On February 12, 2017, Mohammed said a whistle-blower’s tip had also led the government to recover $136.7m (N42bn) from an account in a commercial bank, where the money was kept under a fake account name.

Therefore, the informant is entitled to a total of N1.1bn — five per cent of N1bn (N50m); four per cent of N4bn (N160m); and 2.5 per cent of N37bn (N925m).

During the same period, the minister said another informant had given a tip which led to the recovery of N7bn and $15m (N5bn), totalling (N12bn).

The whistle-blower is therefore entitled to a total of N385m — five per cent of N1bn (N50m); four per cent of N4bn (N160m); and 2.5 per cent of the remaining N7bn (N175m).

Mohammed had also said another N1bn was recovered, so the whistle-blower is entitled to N50m, that is, five per cent of the amount.

On April 8, 2017, officials of the EFCC had recovered N449m in a shop located in the Nigerian Air Force complex, Legico, Victoria Island, Lagos, after receiving a tip-off from a whistle-blower.

Hence, the informant is entitled to N22.5m, which is five per cent of N449m.

On April 11, 2017, the EFCC had also recovered €547,730, £21,090 and N5, 648,500 (totalling N250m) from a Bureau de Change operator in Balogun Market, Lagos, after receiving a tip-off.

The whistle-blower is, therefore, eligible to be paid N12.5m, five per cent of the recovered amount.

The most recent recovery was carried out on April 12, 2017 at a flat at Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos, where EFCC operatives retrieved $43m, £27,000 and N23m (totalling N13bn).

The informant is entitled to a total of N410m, which is five per cent of N1bn (N50m); four per cent of N4bn (N160m); and 2.5 per cent of the remaining N8bn (N200m).

Therefore, since December 2016, the whistle-blowing policy has fetched informants a total of N2, 145,000,000.

When contacted, the Director of Information in the Ministry of Finance, Mr. Salisu Dambatta, said the framework for the implementation of the reward system under the whistle-blower policy was being worked on.

He said as soon as the modalities for the reward system were concluded, the government would start the implementation of the reward regime.

He said, “The Federal Ministry of Justice is finalising the modality and framework for implementing the reward policy.

“Additionally, all recoveries reported are subject to thorough investigation by the relevant agencies.

“As soon as the processes are concluded, the reward regime will be implemented in deserving cases.”

The spokesman for the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, could not be reached for comment as his telephone indicated that it was switched off.

However, a reliable source within the Federal Government said whistle-blowers would be paid once all legal hurdles had been crossed.

The source said for instance, the $9m recovered from a former Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Dr. Andrew Yakubu, was being challenged and as such, it would be premature to give the whistle-blower any money.

He said, “A lot of the recoveries made have legal obstacles which the government must overcome before paying whistle-blowers. For instance, Andrew Yakubu is challenging the Federal Government over the $9m seized from him.

“We cannot pay the whistle-blower until the money is finally forfeited to the Federal Government. So, these modalities will be worked out between the Minister of Finance and the Attorney-General of the Federation.”

Meanwhile, unemployed youths, students and many others have expressed interest in whistle-blowing, seeing it as a new money-spinner.

A Lagos-based graduate of Economics, Kola Akindemowo, said, “I wish I had an opportunity to whistle-blow, just like the guard who gave the EFCC the tip-off which led to the recovery of N13bn in Ikoyi. That’s the kind of money that has no struggle. It’s the type I want to have. I’ve been looking for a good job for the past four years.”

“I am ready to blow anything now, be it trumpet or saxophone. Whistle is too small. I see it as a new money-making machine and I envy those who had got the opportunity to key into the policy,” he added.

Another Lagos-based youth, simply identified as Chigozie, said he would be happy if he could have a chance of making money from the policy, saying, “I am looking forward to the opportunity to whistle-blow. Even if I can make just N5m, I am okay. I will use it to start my business.”

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Government

COVID-19 Vaccine: African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) to Purchase 270 Million Doses for Nigeria, Other African Nations

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African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) Approves $2 Billion for the Purchase of 270 million Doses for African Nations

African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) said it has approved $2 billion for the purchase of 270 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for African nations, including Nigeria.

Prof. Benedict Oramah, the President of the Bank, disclosed this at a virtual Africa Soft Power Series held on Tuesday.

He, however, stated that the lender is looking to raise more funds for the COVID-19 vaccines’ acquisition.

He said: “The African Union knows that unless you put the virus away, your economy can’t come back. If Africa didn’t do anything, it would become a COVID-19 continent when other parts of the world have already moved on.
“Recall that it took seven years during the heat of HIV for them to come to Africa after 12 million people had died.

“With the assistance of the AU, we were able to get 270 million vaccines and financing need of about $2 billion. Afreximbank then went ahead to secure the $2 billion. But that money for the 270 million doses could only add 15 per cent to the 20 per cent that Covax was bringing.

He added that this is not the time to wait for handouts or free vaccines as other countries will naturally sort themselves out before African nations.

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China Calls for Better China-U.S. Relations

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China Calls for China-U.S. Relations

Senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi said on Monday the United States and China could work together on issues like climate change and the coronavirus pandemic if they repaired their damaged bilateral relationship.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang urged Washington to respect China’s core interests, stop “smearing” the ruling Communist Party, stop interfering in Beijing’s internal affairs and stop “conniving” with separatist forces for Taiwan’s independence.

“Over the past few years, the United States basically cut off bilateral dialogue at all levels,” Wang said in prepared remarks translated into English.

“We stand ready to have candid communication with the U.S. side, and engage in dialogues aimed at solving problems.”

Wang pointed to a recent call between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden as a positive step.

Washington and Beijing have clashed on multiple fronts including trade, accusations of human rights crimes against the Uighur Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region and Beijing’s territorial claims in the resources-rich South China Sea.

The Biden administration has, however, signalled it will maintain pressure on Beijing. Biden has voiced concern about Beijing’s “coercive and unfair” trade practices and endorsed of a Trump administration determination that China has committed genocide in Xinjiang.

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Government

U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns

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President Trump Signs Executive Order In Oval Office Of The White House

U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday paved the way for a New York City prosecutor to obtain former President Donald Trump’s tax returns and other financial records as part of a criminal investigation, a blow to his quest to conceal details of his finances.

The justices without comment rebuffed Trump’s request to put on hold an Oct. 7 lower court ruling directing the former Republican president’s longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, to comply with a subpoena to turn over the materials to a grand jury convened by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, a Democrat.

“The work continues,” Vance said in a statement issued after the court’s action.

Vance had previously said in a letter to Trump’s lawyers that his office would be free to immediately enforce the subpoena if the justices rejected Trump’s request.

A lawyer for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Supreme Court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority included three Trump appointees, had already ruled once in the dispute, last July rejecting Trump’s broad argument that he was immune from criminal probes as a sitting president.

Unlike all other recent U.S. presidents, Trump refused during his four years in office to make his tax returns public. The data could provide details on his wealth and the activities of his family real-estate company, the Trump Organization.

Trump, who left office on Jan. 20 after being defeated in his Nov. 3 re-election bid by Democrat Joe Biden, continues to face an array of legal issues concerning his personal and business conduct.

Vance issued a subpoena to Mazars in August 2019 seeking Trump’s corporate and personal tax returns from 2011 to 2018. Trump’s lawyers sued to block the subpoena, arguing that as a sitting president, Trump had absolute immunity from state criminal investigations.

The Supreme Court in its July ruling rejected those arguments but said Trump could raise other objections to the subpoena. Trump’s lawyers then argued before lower courts that the subpoena was overly broad and amounted to political harassment, but U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero in August and the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in October rejected those claims.

Vance’s investigation, which began more than two years ago, had focused on hush money payments that the president’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen made before the 2016 election to two women – adult-film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal – who said they had sexual encounters with Trump.

In recent court filings, Vance has suggested that the probe is now broader and could focus on potential bank, tax and insurance fraud, as well as falsification of business records.

In separate litigation, the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives was seeking to subpoena similar records. The Supreme Court in July sent that matter back to lower courts for further review.

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