Godwin Tsa, Abuja
A private firm has asked the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate alleged fraudulent transactions involving the Paris club refund by the Delta State Government.
The consultancy firm, Mauritz Walton Ltd, was in November 2014 engaged by the Delta State Government to reconcile and recover the state’s excess deductions on foreign loans by the Federal Government.
However, the firm alleged that the sum of N98,317,680,420.50 has been fraudulently paid to another company, Hedge Securities, in three tranches by the state government.
In a petition titled ‘Petition for the Recovery of Our Consultancy Fees Fraudulently Paid to Hedge Fund Securities and Others on the Reconciliation and Recovery of Over Deduction of Foreign Loans (1995 – 2006) Paris Club Refund on the Account of Delta State Government’, Mauritz Walton Ltd called on the anti graft commission to dig deep into those behind the formation of Hedge Securities and use its offices “in recovering our full consultancy fees which is being paid to Hedge Securities and other persons as consultants.”
Sometimes in November 2014, the Delta State Government engaged consultancy firm Mauritz Walton Ltd to reconcile and recover the state’s excess deductions on foreign loans by the Federal Government.
The letter of engagement was signed by the then State Commissioner of Finance, Kenneth Okpara.
The letter, dated November 19, 2014 with reference number: F.7/2/22, and addressed to the company, reads:
“With reference to your proposal for recovery of excess deductions in respect of foreign loans, we are pleased to offer you consultancy appointment under the following terms and conditions.”
One of the conditions of appointment was to review all foreign loans contracted by Delta State for the purpose of recovering excess deductions on behalf of the state government, and that all recoveries made in respect of the assignment will be paid into an account designated by the accountant general, and 30% community charge on reconciled and recovered amount will be paid to the firm after deducting taxes.
Another letter, signed by the then Delta State Governor, Emmanuel Uduaghan, and addressed to then Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, intimating her of appointment of Mauritz Wanton as its consultant; and dated November 26, with referenced number F.7/2/23, said in part: “I wish to inform you that the Delta State Government has appointed Messrs Mauritz Walton Nigeria Limited as the state’s consultants for the purpose of Back Duty Reconciliation and Recovery of Excess Deductions on foreign loans on behalf of Delta State”
According to the petitioner, “We immediately commenced work on the project and by December 8, 2014 we had fully reconciled the debt profile of Delta State and filed a demand with the Federal Government seeking a refund of $365,655,143.86.”
However, according to Mauritz Walton, the current governor of the state, Ifeanyi Okowa, has refused the request for payment of the commission.
Rather, the state government has allegedly paid its commission to another firm, Hedge Fund Securities. Specifically, the petitioners say that Hedge Fund Securities was allegedly paid a substantial amount of money as consultants to Delta State on Paris Club Refunds, after it (Mauritz Walton) had successfully executed an agreed contract with the state government.
Accordingly, the petitioners asked the EFCC to probe the company, Hedge Securities, and other individuals named in the petition which, according to it, were engaged as an afterthought to siphon consultancy fees due to the company.
It is the position of the petitioners that Hedge Securities and other persons allegedly fronted for the government of Delta State to siphon the commission which would have been paid to Mauritz Walton for a job duly executed.
The company further alleged that after spending time, money, and travelling both within and outside the country to make sure the reconciled amount was paid to the Delta State government, its submissions to the state government for payment of its commission were passed on to “the governor’s brother in-law and close friend for the purpose of engaging a new consultant.
“Within weeks we received termination letter from the state government on a project that had already been completed and a new consultant by name of Hedge Fund Securities was appointed,” the petition stated.
At present the sum of N98,317,680,420.50 is said to have been paid to the Hedge Securities in three tranches.