Transcorp Suspends GMD, two others

Tom Iseghohi
Tom Iseghohi
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Everyone is innocent until proven guilty, but for Thomas Iseghohi, Mike Okoli and Buba Mohammed, they stand guilty, until they are able prove their innocence on a thirty two count charge instituted against them by the Economic and Financial Crime Commision (EFCC). can authoritatively report that the board of Transnational Corporation of Nigeria (Transcorp) plc, after its meeting of May 28, 2009, announced the indefinite suspension of Thomas Iseghohi, group managing director/chief executive officer; Mohammed Buba, company secretary; and Mike Okoli, deputy general manager, from office pending the determination of the suit instituted against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). gathered that the move is to ensure the smooth running of the day-to-day operations of the company. The Board had, in an earlier meeting, named Nick Okoro, the general manager, business development, as the interim chief executive officer of the company.

Specifically, the Economic and Financial Crime said , the three men, currently held at the kuje prison in Abuja, are accused of using different companies owned by their friends and cronies, mostly based in America, as fronts to siphon the company's monies by inflated payments for bogus consultancy projects and contracts, and general mismanagement of the NITEL.

Some of the companies involved in the racket include: Global Employment Solutions Inc. (GESI), Lansak International Ltd and Global Information Technology Inc. Others were Anchor Pointe Integrated Ltd, Asasa Enterprise Nigerian Ltd, Hamattan Ventures and Centre Spread (FCB) among others. Femi was also quoted as saying that in the case referred to the EFCC by the SSS, Iseghohi was alleged to have severally exceeded his approval limit of N100 million. investigations reveal some of the details of the allegations which spanned 2007 to date thus:

Paid $100,000.00 to Global Information Tech Inc. based in Tampa, Florida, USA to investigate a fire incident at Nitel Property at Saka Tinubu in Lagos in addition to other monies paid to the company for other services.

From 2007 to date $108 million was paid as monthly retainership fees to Ankor Pointe Integrated Ltd to manage Transcorp's oil block; the deal has been revoked by the Federal Government.

From July 2007 to May 2008, $1.2 million was paid into an account domiciled in Cordova, Tennessee, USA; belonging to Global Employment Solutions Inc. (GESI) operated by one Mike Ike and allegedly owned by Iseghohi.

Harmattan Ventures operated by one Akin Adebayo Doherty was paid $500,000.00 from December 2007 to March 2009 for organizing a meeting for Iseghohi overseas.

Lansak International Ltd was paid N64 million for an office space not in use. The said contract was handled by one Henry Chagoury, the elder Chagoury.

Constance Security Services Ltd, paid N5 million to investigate allegation of fraud against the Deputy GM Okoli, and Company Secretary Mohammed Buba; approval for the money was given by the same Okoli.

Asasa Enterprises Nigeria Ltd was paid N35 million for unspecific consultancy services.

Between May 2007 to September 2008, Iseghohi allegedly paid Centre Spread over N233 million and another N205 million as legal fees was paid to unspecified persons within the same period.

Other companies who benefited from the indiscriminate payments are Amplified Nigeria Ltd, which in nine months received N103 million and Costumes Services Ltd, which also got N4.9 million over the same period. In sum total, the top Transcorp leaders are alleged to have siphoned about $75 million from the company's coffers between July 2007 and May 2008. The trio are also accused of deliberate refusal to submit audited accounts of the company, thereby shortchanging shareholders and also using NITEL/MTEL to siphon money through arranged consultants.

Investigations showed that in less than one year, the group Managing Director approved the payment of 1.2 million dollars (about N174 million) to Global Consultancy as fees and N230 million to Centre Spread FCB. They are also being prosecuted for illegally concessioning the nation's SAT3 undersea cable owned by NITEL without government's approval, thereby undermining national security. The Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) had, in the latest attempt to resell NITEL/MTEL, discovered fresh debts running to billions of naira exclusive of the over N500 million salary arrears and the N15 billion severance package. BPE, baffled by the huge debts, decided to verify the debt claims inviting creditors to come forward to ascertain their credits to NITEL and MTEL.

Meanwhile, the SSS and EFCC has also drilled the controversial Transcorp Board Chairperson, Mrs. Ndidi Okereke-Onyiuke, over the alleged scam rocking the business conglomerate. Okereke-Onyiuke, who used her position as Board chair to muzzle Iseghogi as GMD, has since rescinded the firing of Kevin Carusso as Nitel MD.

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