We will invite EFCC to investigate financial infractions – Farinto
Freight agents have lamented over N20billion losses to demurrage and storage charges following suspension of Guarantee Trust Bank (GTB) from collection of Customs duties.
The acting president of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Dr. Kayode Farinto revealed this yesterday even as he warned that customs brokers may be forced to suspend their operations with GTB following the bank’s indiscipline.
It will be recalled that GTB was temporarily suspended from Customs duty processing by Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) following directives from the National Assembly, according to the National Public Relations Officer of Customs, Deputy Comptroller Timi Bomodi.
However, in a chat with News Diet, the acting president of ANLCA, Farinto confirmed that the bank was suspended owing to non remittance of monies collected from clearing agents on behalf of the federal government.
Farinto described the act as a criminal offence, even as he threatened that the customs brokers may be forced to invite the Economic Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) to look into the issue.
The freight forwarder estimated losses from the bank’s suspension to be over N20billion, adding that if by Monday the issue remains unresolved customs brokers will stage a 1000-men walk to the bank’s corporate headquarters in Lagos.
His words: “GT bank has succeeded in feeding the public with false news. What we noticed is a financial shenanigan on the part of the bank. It is not even customs that suspended them, it was a directive from the National Assembly based on investigations. What it translates to is that in the course of reconciliation GT bank has not remitted some large amount of money to the federation account and they have collected it on behalf of the federal government. This is a criminal offense and that is why we will be inviting the EFCC to come into this issue.”
“If by Monday, they are not called back into the system, we are going to make sure that by Tuesday morning we will call our freight forwarders not to do transactions with GT bank again, they should close their accounts. We will make sure we mobilize more than 1000 freight forwarders to go to their corporate headquarters because this has impacted negatively on the economy of the country.”
He lamented that several consignments which have collected their Form M and have their PAAR through GT bank are unable to move forward.
Farinto urged all chairmen of freight forwarding practitioners at ports to collate all demurrages, transactions that have to do with GT bank in a bid to ascertain their losses which will be outlined in a letter addressed to the EFCC.
“I was told that some directors at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) should be culpable. If a bank collects duty and charges on behalf of the nation and that money is not remitted, it is the responsibilities of CBN to make sure that there is financial discipline on that commercial bank and this has not been done. We are not sure if those remittances were done, it could even be that they have not done any remittance since last year or even six months ago,” he said.
While appreciating the National Assembly for this development, he appealed to NCS to look for a solution in the interest of trade facilitation as a alternative should be created for transactions hampered by GTB’s suspension.
He added that freight forwarders are also calling on the National Assembly to reveal other banks culpable in such financial irregularities and indiscipline.