Former managing director of the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company, Ehi Okomoyon has been arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. The former Mint boss, who recently resigned his appointment on the heels of the embarrassing disappearance of millions of N1000 currency notes from the company, was picked up on Sunday, April 14, 2013. Sources at the anti- graft agency informed that Okomoyon is being quizzed by investigators at the EFCC Abuja office in relation to the Australian polymer banknotes bribery scam.
Nigerian officials allegedly received bribes in a printing contract for banknotes by Securency, a note-printing firm partly owned by the Reserve Bank of Australia. Former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Professor Chukwuma Soludo has also been quizzed by the EFCC in January in connection with the scam.
The polymer notes bribery scandal which dogged the tenure of the former governor of the CBN, Chukwuma Soludo, occurred in 2006.
The festering scandal surrounding the printing of polymer notes by the CBN was first reported by an Australian newspaper ‘The Age’ . The paper reported that Securency International, a company that manufactures polymer used in banknotes in over 28 countries, paid kickbacks to secure polymer note printing contracts in some countries, including Nigeria. The sum of N750 million was said to have been paid to bribe Nigerian officials.
At the Nigerian end of the international swindle, the newspaper reported that Securency International, a subsidiary of the Reserve Bank of Australia, paid millions of dollars into the offshore bank accounts of two British-based businessmen for onward transfer to some top Nigerian government functionaries and CBN officials to win the 2006 polymer printing contract.
Securency reportedly supplied 1.9 billion banknotes to the CBN between 2006 and 2008. Bribe payments for the contract were reportedly deposited in the Seychelles and the Bahamas, listed by the Australian Tax Office as tax havens known for their secretive banking arrangements. Nigeria’s contract was Securency’s biggest in Africa.
The scandal was to force the Africa manager at Securency, Peter Chapman to resign while the firm’s South African middleman, Donald McArthur, was fired. The Australian Federal Government said it had referred all questions about Securency to the Reserve Bank, while the RBA has, so far, declined to answer questions about Securency’s activities in Nigeria.
Naira notes and coins are printed/minted by the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Plc and other overseas printing/minting companies, and issued by the CBN.