The Managing Director of Polaris Bank, Mr Innocent Ike, has said that the bank has refunded the $300 million lodged with the bank by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in 2012.
Ike said this while appearing before the House of Representatives ad hoc committee on the assessment and status of all recovered loots from 2002-2020.
He said that the money deposited with the bank by NNPC was at no time hidden from any government agencies, adding that the money should not be classified as a looted fund.
The managing director explained that part of the strategy adopted in payment of the deposit was to remit it to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and gave the apex bank instruction to credit the NNPC.
He said that the NNPC was yet to confirm the receipt of the money paid into the apex bank’s account, while urging the NNPC to write and confirm payment, stressing that Polarise bank had written to the CBN to that effect.
Ike stressed that there was never a time the money was not disclosed in writing or was there any time it was hidden from the public or government agencies.
The managing director also disclosed that the interest of the sum kept with the bank since 2012 was dully paid.
The committee however queried the motive of NNPC keeping the sum with the bank without having an initial account with the bank before the $300 dollars was lodged with it.
Rep. Adejoro Adeogun, the Chairman of the committee, said that such motive was suspicious, adding that money was also hurriedly paid to NNPC when the bank received a letter from it to appear before the committee for an explanation.
He stated that the money had spent seven years with the bank without any action, adding that the bank must have thought the money had been forgotten.
“You have about six years when this deposit was in your custody. It is impossible to forget 300 million U.S dollars; were you thinking it is has been forgotten?” he asked.
He accused the bank of exhibiting carelessness when it comes to money deposited by the Federal Government.
However, one of the petitioners, Tosin Ojomo, a lawyer who appeared before the committee, faulted the managing director’s claim, stating that Polarise bank was arrested before it confessed that the money was truly in its custody.
The committee then summoned the NNPC and CBN for further clarifications on the status of the money but asked Polarise to furnish it with documents relating to cash movements in the account from 2012 to 2020.