The State Security Service (SSS) has initiated a thorough investigation into a massive economic fraud scandal involving Olam Nigeria Limited, Olam International, and their nine subsidiaries, with an astonishing sum exceeding $50 billion at its core.
This groundbreaking expose brings to light a web of financial deceit and underhanded dealings that have allegedly plagued the nation for years.
Speaking on the matter, a high-ranking official from the SSS stated, “We are committed to unearthing the truth behind this monumental scandal and holding those responsible accountable for their actions.”
At the heart of this sprawling scandal are allegations of round-tripping foreign exchange deals dating back to 2015. Olam, through its Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs), purportedly funneled approximately $34 billion into the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) under the guise of capital importation at official rates.
However, instead of injecting these funds into the Nigerian economy, it is claimed that Olam engaged in forex round-tripping, selling to various entities, including oil and gas marketers and major industries like Indorama and Fouani, at parallel market rates.
Investigations further reveal that Olam directed these forex buyers to deposit the naira equivalent into the accounts of its SPVs during the period under scrutiny.
Olam Group Under Probe Over Multi-billion Dollar Forex Fraud
What’s more, some of these companies reportedly have fictitious Nigerian directors while being exclusively managed by Indian expatriates, some of whom reside in Europe and Asia.
This ongoing SSS probe extends beyond the FX fraud, delving into the anchor-borrower scheme deals that transpired during the tenure of the suspended CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele.
Secret service agents have also unveiled a network of shell companies associated with Olam, with alleged traces of transfers into accounts controlled by individuals like Aminu Yaro, a figure linked to the embattled CBN governor.
Mr. Yaro has been in SSS detention since July 12 as part of the broader investigation. The SSS has summoned several key figures in the scandal, including the MD/CEO of Olam Nigeria Limited, Ashish Pande, as well as other top officers such as Prakash Kanth, Sudhir Goenka, Niraj Shah, Chandrasekran Balaji, and Venkataramani Srivathshan.
Additionally, Rajeesh Damodaram Valagulam, the Chief Financial Officer of Crown Flour Mill Limited, a major Olam subsidiary in Nigeria, has also been invited for questioning.
Critics argue that Olam and its subsidiaries have played a significant role in the devaluation of the Nigerian currency, the naira.
Shockingly, despite previous investigations by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the company reportedly remained unprosecuted, allegedly due to its ties to the ‘cabal’ of the previous administration.
In one instance, an SSS investigation in 2020 recommended the revocation of the Certificate of Capital Importation (CCI) related to Olam, but these suggestions were purportedly ignored by CBN authorities.
In a separate international incident, Ivory Coast ordered Olam International to pay a staggering 142 billion CFA francs ($262.7 million) in relation to the repatriation of foreign currency in 2021.
The company’s troubles extend beyond Nigerian borders as well. In 2015, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) imposed a $3 million penalty against Olam International, Ltd. and Olam Americas, Inc. for various violations.
Most recently, in July of this year, ICE Futures U.S. published a disciplinary notice against Olam International Limited for violating exchange rules, resulting in a substantial monetary penalty and disgorgement of profits.
As the SSS investigation gains momentum, the nation watches with bated breath, anticipating the full unraveling of this intricate financial web that has ensnared one of Nigeria’s most prominent corporate entities.