The Central Bank of Nigeria has been discovered to release audited financial account reports (spanning 2016 to 2022) which alleged contained inaccurate and false data.
The CBN may therefore be asked to withdraw those audited annual financial reports, under former President Muhammadu Buhari, which were released only last month.
This came after a team investigating the apex bank discovered discrepancies and irregularities in the financial accounts, PUNCH reports.
In August, the CBN released its financial accounts for the years 2016 to 2022 amid an ongoing probe of the financial services sector regulator by a Special Investigator appointed by President Bola Tinubu.
Tinubu had on July 28 appointed a former Chief Executive Officer of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria, Jim Obazee, as Special Investigator to probe the activities of the apex bank under its suspended governor, Godwin Emefiele.
Aside from the CBN, the Special Investigator is also investigating the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited, FRC and other Government Business Entities.
The President, in the letter which he personally signed, said the move was in continuation of the government’s anti-corruption fight.
The letter, dated July 28, 2023, read, “In accordance with the fundamental objectives set forth in Section 15(5) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), this administration is, today, continuing the fight against corruption by appointing you as a Special Investigator, to investigate the CBN and Related Entities. This appointment shall be with immediate effect and you are to report directly to my office.”
The President also attached a copy of his directive suspending Godwin Emefiele as Governor of the CBN on June 9, 2023.
According to findings, the CBN Special Investigator is working with a team of accountants, auditors, and forensic accountants to carry out the investigation.
Meanwhile, it was gathered on Monday that the CBN might be asked to withdraw its seven-year audited financial account reports (spanning 2016 to 2022) over allegations of containing inaccurate and false data.
Multiple sources close to the investigation said a presidential approval would soon be obtained to enable the relevant agency (FRC) to order the CBN to withdraw the controversial financial accounts.
Top sources close to the Special Investigator and his team said while the CBN financial accounts were not prepared using the International Financial Reporting Standards 9, which demands full disclosure of all financial transactions, the apex bank allegedly used guidelines purportedly obtained from the FRC in a controversial manner to prepare the financial accounts.
It was further learnt that the CBN allegedly paid N401.75m to IFRS Academy for the guidelines used in preparing the accounts.
“As a government institution, if you are getting any revenue, you are meant to pay it into Treasury Single Account from which certain percentage will be deducted for the government. According to documents, the N401m paid by the CBN for the accounting guidelines between 2016 and 2022 was paid into IFRS Academy account. The academy is a limited guarantee company set up by the FRC to train people in IFRS accounting,” a top official close to the investigation, who spoke on condition of anonymity, alleged.
“The issue is that the guidelines used in preparing the CBN accounts between 2016 and 2022 were not supposed to be paid for. Also, any accounting guidelines issued by the FRC are meant to be approved by its board and published on its website. These things were not done. The reason IFRS 9 was being avoided is to understate figures,” the official added.
Other officials close to the investigation also claimed it was wrong to give the FRC accounting guidelines to external organisations.
As a result, it was learnt the Special Investigator team had included its recommendations that presidential approval be given to the FRC to order the CBN to withdraw the released annual financial accounts between 2016 and 2022.
“The team has also invited the auditors that prepared the accounts for questioning. Some of the data contained in the CBN financial accounts cannot be relied upon as far as the team carrying out the investigation is concerned. Once the President approves, the CBN will be asked to withdraw the accounts in order to prepare new ones using the proper accounting methodology and standards,” another official close to the team said.
Meanwhile, findings have shown that Department of State Services may invite the Executive Secretary/Chief Executive Officer of FRC, Shuaibu Ahmed, and some top officials of the agency for questioning.
Also, the Special Investigator and his team are expected to question officials of the FRC for allegations bothering on the controversial accounting guidelines used by the CBN, among other issues.