SSS, investigates Olam, 10 other subsidiaries over multi-billion dollar forex fraud

The State Security Service, SSS, is investigating a mega economic fraud involving Olam Nigeria Limited, Olam International and their nine subsidiaries to the tune of over $50billion.

In a chain of round-tripping foreign exchange deals since 2015, the company, through its Special Purpose Vehicles, SPVs, had booked about $34 billion with the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, as capital importation at official rates.

But instead of investing the money into the Nigerian economy, sources said the company round-tripped the forex and sold to business men, especially oil and gas marketers and industries such Indorama and Fouani, at parallel market rates.

Investigation revealed that Olam usually directed the forex buyers to lodge the naira equivalent into the account of one or many of its SPVs during the period under review.

Although some of the companies have fictitious Nigerians as directors, the accounts are solely managed by the Indian expatriates, some of whom are based in Europe and Asia.

As the SSS opens probe into the FX fraud and anchor-borrower scheme deals that took place under the suspended governor of CBN, Godwin Emefiele, the country’s secret police has uncovered a chain of shell companies linked to Olam.

According to inside sources, security agents uncovered traces of transfers into accounts controlled by Aminu Yaro, one of the ‘fronts’ of the embattled CBN governor.

Mr Yaro, who was previously investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has been in SSS detention since July 12.

Findings revealed that the SSS had invited some  expatriates, including the MD/CEO of Olam Nigeria Limited Ashish Pande and some top officers of the company, namely Prakash Kanth, Sudhir Goenka, Niraj Shah, Chandrasekran Balaji and Venkataramani Srivathshan.

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The SSS also invited the Chief Financial Officer of Crown Flour Mill Limited, Rajeesh Damodaram Valagulam. According to sources, Crown Flour Mill Limited is one of the major Olam subsidiaries in Nigeria.

According to insiders, Olam Nigeria Limited and their subsidiaries are the key FX speculators that contributed to the declining value of Nigerian currency, naira.

Although many Nigerians are unaware of the company’s shady deals, investigation revealed that those saddled with the responsibility of managing the country’s economy knew too well as Olam had been investigated by the EFCC but failed to prosecute them due to their alleged link to the ‘cabal’ of the previous administration.

In one of the deals previously investigated by the SSS in 2020, the service advised the CBN to revoke the Certificate of Capital Importation, CCI, but the apex bank authorities ignored the advice.

While the Nigerian authorities failed to sanction Olam for its various FX infractions, in 2021 Ivory Coast ordered Olam International to pay 142 billion CFA francs ($262.7 million) in connection with the repatriation of foreign currency.

In 2015, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, CFTC, imposed a $3 million penalty against Olam International, Ltd. and Olam Americas, Inc. for violating Cocoa Position Limits and unlawfully executing noncompetitive trades.

In July this year, ICE Futures U.S. published a disciplinary notice against Olam International Limited for violating Exchange Rule 6.18(b) on February 17, 2022 by establishing positions in the spot month Coffee “C” futures contract that exceeded the contract’s notice period position limit.

The company agreed to pay a monetary penalty of $30,000 and disgorge profits of $430,950.25.

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Ashish Pande
Ashish Pande

Contacted to respond to the allegations against his company and why he is at large, Olam Nigeria country head, Ashish Pande, requested our reporter to reveal how he knew about the investigations.

“But how did you know about all this? Who told you all this? Well, I’m not aware of all this,” he said and hung up.

Mr Pande did not respond to subsequent calls to his number by our reporter.

Spokesman for the SSS, Peter Afunanya, replied “No comment” to DAILY NIGERIAN inquiry on the matter.



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