A source at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has reportedly told newsmen that some bankers, mainly account officers have been trooping to the agency to report financial irregularities perpetrated by public office holders.
The bankers are said to have been encouraged largely by the reward of between 2.5 per cent (minimum) and five per cent (maximum) of the total amount recovered under the federal government’s whistleblowing policy.
According to the source, several former and current public officers who had allegedly stolen from the treasury either hid the physical cash in safe houses or used shell companies, close aides, associates and family members to stash the ill-gotten funds in bank accounts using the names of the companies or their friends, family members and associates.
However, though the accounts are not in the names of the political office holders, they usually operate the accounts themselves, a fact that is well known by the bank account officers who help them to manage the accounts.
As a result, since the federal government unveiled the whistleblowing policy as a means of recovering stolen public sector funds, a number of junior and middle-level bankers have been quietly ratting on the true beneficiaries of the accounts in order to cash in on the rewards derivable from the policy.
The EFCC source said that once the commission is contacted by a banker, it is usually easy to identify the real beneficiary of the bank accounts through the Bank Verification Number (BVN), since an account holder can only have one BVN for all of his individual and company accounts.
The source said: “Junior to middle-level account officers in the banks are the major whistleblowers. That is why we (EFCC) have been recovering a lot of money since the policy was unveiled.
“They are ratting on politicians and public office holders. Some of these politicians use shell companies; some use companies in which they are not even directors or shareholders. Some also use friends, family members and associates.
“But because the public office holders still manage the accounts themselves, the BVNs can still be traced to them.
“For instance, once there is a suspicious bank account, the account officer informs the EFCC, which in turn carries out the investigation and then gets a freeze order on the account(s), following which the suspect will be invited for interrogation.”
The whistleblowing policy is said to have led to the recovery of $9.8 million by the EFCC from a former Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Andrew Yakubu, was the fallout of a clash between Yakubu and his political opponents in Kaduna States, who used a very close family member of the former NNPC boss to snitch on him to the anti-graft agency.
A special operation conducted by EFCC operatives on February 3, 2017 on a building belonging to Yakubu in Kaduna, yielded the staggering sum and another £74,000 in cash. The huge cash was hidden in a fire proof safe in the building.
However, the EFCC source explained that the family member, whose identity has been kept under wraps for security reasons, may not be entitled to the reward provided in the whistleblowing policy, because Yakubu who has maintained that the cash found in the house was a gift, has challenged the temporary forfeiture order obtained by the EFCC from the court to the federal government, reports This Day.
“Should he win his case and the amount returned, the whistleblower will not be entitled to anything,” the source said.