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$1m cash-for-contract polymer banknotes:CBN `s culpable

Source: huhuonline.com

Recall that on September 30, 2009, President Umaru Yar`dua flanked by the CBN governor Sanusi Lamido launched the new N5, N10 and N50 polymer naira notes. The new bank notes, which were issued into circulation to coincide with Nigeria`s independence day celebration, Huhuonline.com learnt is another case of cash-for- contract gone bad, currently under investigation by Australian federal police.

Charles Soludo, former governor of central bank and his successor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi have made attempts to extricate the apex bank. Though, Sanusi feigned ignorance about the existence of Securency, both men were in concord on who was accountable for the polymer banknotes contract award and said “Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Limited is responsible for printing banknotes”

However, our checks reveals that their assertions do not actually represent the status quo, as the Central Bank of Nigeria is the only financial institution in the country that can award contract for the printing of the country's currency.

According to a CBN source, who elected anonymity, “only the central bank could have awarded the contract for the printing of the polymer notes because the CBN has controlling stake of 77 per cent in Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Plc.Continuing, the source said “G&B of Germany, however, printed the new polymer notes of N5, N10 and N50”.

As huhuonline.com published previously, the probe centres on a series of multi-million-dollar payments made by Securency into an offshore tax haven account of two UK-based businessmen, Benoy Berry and Mike Harding, who boast high-level political connections in Britain and Africa. The men were paid to help Securency win a 2006 contract from the Central Bank of Nigeria to print its polymer notes. Investigation unearthed evidence the firm paid millions into a tax haven bank account belonging to Dr Berry, while an overseas-based source claims Securency paid $1 million into accounts tied to two companies overseen by Mr Harding.

Investigation also found that Mr Harding directs some of his companies' earnings into a tax-free business zone at Sharjah airport in the United Arab Emirates. The RBA declined to answer questions about Securency's activities in Nigeria, in the same way it kept mum last month when Securency's Africa manager, Peter Chapman, resigned and the company's convicted South African middleman, Donald McArthur, was sacked. The sacking took place only after The Age revealed McArthur had pleaded guilty last year to reckless trading involving fraudulent transactions. Again, the details of Securency's engagement with McArthur raise questions of the RBA.

Asked if he was aware of any bribes being paid to Nigerian officials, Mr Harding said: "It is the nature of the beast. I'm not ignorant of what goes on. As soon as I learned of the troubles with Securency I pulled right back."

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