AFC: Avarice, Fraud, and Corruption



AFC: Avarice, Fraud and Corruption

About this time last year, the Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) was launched with much fanfare. It was projected as a noble and visionary idea to help mobilize private and public capital for investment in Nigeria’s and Africa’s infrastructure, industrial and financial assets. It was viewed as the best example of public-private partnership: an international organization, with diplomatic status, capitalizing on private-sector driven development of Africa. About $1 billion paid-in capital was mobilized, with almost half from the CBN.

Several competent, credible and innocent professional staffs were persuaded to join the AFC from reputable local and international institutions: Citibank, KPMG, ADB, DBSA, IFC, World Bank, etc. Many joined the institution believing in a noble and visionary cause. But they are now disappointed, disillusioned, and demoralized!

What a difference one Year make? The AFC is now being investigated by a Panel set up by the Federal Government.

 

There have been a torrent and flood of commentaries on the issue in Nigerian newspapers. What went wrong within 12 months? Several things went wrong. There is nothing wrong with the CBN playing a catalytic role in initiating and establishing the AFC. Other Central Banks in large countries such as China, India, Brazil, and South Africa have done similar things in their own countries and region. Inspite of procedural mistakes in the process of initiating the AFC, it is still a bold, noble and visionary concept.

However, while most newspaper commentaries have focused on the virtues of AFC and condemning the Federal Government and the Panel, they have ignored what most credible staffs of AFC regard as salient features of the internal mismanagement of AFC. Some of the Press commentaries are misplaced. But it is also understandable that some of the journalists were being bribed by Austine through Delele Alake. Some of the internal mismanagement features are discussed below.

AFC and AO: The greatest error made regarding AFC was the appointment of Austine Ometoruwa (AO) as the CEO of AFC. There was no proper due diligence done on AO before appointing him. His records at NAMBL and Citibank were nothing to write home about. He was implicitly fired from those institutions. He has no respect for the rule of law, procedures, and policies either at those institutions or at the AFC. He was known for stealing with both hands at those companies. Several revelations have been made regarding corruption and fraud by the CEO of AFC. Several revelations have been made regarding corruption and fraud by the CEO of AFC.

 

A staff audit clearly reveals that he lacks the basic qualifications to get a job as a professional in any international organization, talkless of becoming the CEO of one. Yet he is paid a basic salary of $460,000 and other benefits amounting to more than $1 million, more than what the President of the World Bank or any other international financial organizations earns. Remember that the CEO of the World Bank manages a global institution with more than $150 billion in capital and almost 10,000 staff and 175 member countries, compared to AFC with only $1 billion and less than 40 staffs, and only 3 member countries. Austine stayed in a hotel at $1,000 per day and $360,000 per year in a country and continent, where most people live on $1 a day or $360 a year. Yet, he claims that his mission is to develop Nigeria and Africa. When the monkey is made to wear a crown, it is about time to leave town.

AFC and ADC: From Citibank, AO went on to head Aliko Dangote Capital (AD Capital or ADC). His mediocrity quickly led to ADC becoming moribund. He then rode on the back of his affiliation with Dangote to become the CEO of AFC. Originally conceived as an international public-private institution, AO turns AFC into effectively a subsidiary of Dangote Group. Thus, the Panel is right in noting that AFC has deviated from its original intention of being an international public financial institution with immunity, diplomatic, and tax-free status. We understand that Austin now runs the AFC as a subsidiary of Dangote Group. AFC is occupying Dangote’s building, renovated at very exhorbitant and over-inflated cost.

 

All the businesses and projects that AFC plans to do involve Dangote and WEMPCO, notably: KOGI COAL, Olokola, Cement, Port Harcourt Ring road etc. Any other projects are rejected without clear reasons. He gave Dangote group $120 million without any due process. The fact that Dangote, Austine and Tung were on the Presidential Power Committee on NIPPS was no mere coincidence. It was part of an elaborate plan to conner government assets into the hands of a few private oligarchs. They already and secretely formed a private company comprising AFC, Dangote, and WEMPCO to take over those assets. He gave $100 million to WEMPCO, who in turns, used the money to buy shares in AFC.

AFC and AFC: Austine has given the real AFC a new meaning, Avarice, Fraud and Corruption, or better still Austine Fraudulent Corporation.

 

He employs his in-laws and friends in strategic positions. His actions are done secretly, without an iota of transparency, between him and his special adviser, who was once declared a persona non- grata in South Africa. Austine deliberately put non-Nigerians, especially an Irish, a Gambian, and a Ghanaian, his fellow fraudster and special adviser in charge of key operations of AFC and its illegal subsidiaries—-Costellor, AFC Asia Holdings, and Africa Infrastructure, Africa Electric as it is easier for him to commit fraud with those people. He pays less qualified non-Nigerians more than their Nigerian counterparts. As an insult to the AFC and to Nigeria, the institution is now been balkanised. A Gambian deems it fit to recruit only his fellow Gambians in his Unit without proper procedures inspite of the fact that Gambia has not even joined the institution and pay any financial contributions. Ditto for Austine’s special adviser from Ghana. Austine is the sole signatory on the account of AFC Asian Holdings with UBS.

 

He and Lewis Tung, a chinese owner of WEMPCO, signed a resolution in January 2008 to open the account. Austine’s intention was to use the account to commit fraud. Austine plans to steal $30 million through Costellor in Ghana, and get away with a large part of the $100 million in AFC Asia Holdings. He connived with WEMPCO to establish Gloria Investment in Hong Kong, and allocate shares of AFC to himself and some prominent people. He and his special adviser gave a contract of $14 million for Environmental Impacts Assessment for KOGI Coal Project. The money will be given to the mother of one of the staffs very close to Austine and his special adviser. Austin has hired a consultant, reportedly close to the comptroller-general of the immigration to obtain permits for non-Nigerian staffs working at AFC. The staffs will be treated as consultants. This amounts to lies and dishonesty. It is unimaginable that the head of the Nigerian immigration will be involved in such a scam. Austine refused to employ a chief risk officer, internal auditor, and human resource manager. We understand that he is now making a frantic effort to have somebody seconded from KPMG. What a deceitful person! Financially, he has proven to be very reckless spending money as if he is running a free tap water into a basket. Operationally, he has nothing to show after one year.

 

Management wise, he is termed management by blackberry (MBB). He lacks any iota of people management.

AFC and DD: The Board members of AFC are now seen as the Dirty Dozen that have cornered Nigeria’s financial markets and industrial assets. This is unfortunate as some of them may have made their money legitimately. Take for example, the CEO of Oceanic Bank, a decent woman from a decent family running a decent institution. She initially supported the appointment of Austine, but we now understand that she is regretting it. However, their collective actions in appointing Austine and his special adviser and, their inactions in removing Austine as the CEO, in the face of the massive AFC (avarice, fraud and corruption) within the AFC has paralyzed the institution. In any other decent institution facing a similar governance crisis and probe, the CEO would have been asked by the Board to step aside.The AFC is now regarded by market operators as a risky venture to do business with. There is nothing the AFC is doing now that the investment banking arms of UBA, Zenith, Oceanic, First Bank, Access, Intercontinental, Union Bank, etc can not do on their own, once the original concept of an international public-private organization is lost..

 

One of the reasons for the AFC having diplomatic immunity and tax free-status is to allow it to do businesses in several African countries without being bogged down by administrative procedures that will be required from a purely private corporation.

AFC Brand: The AFC brand has been damaged almost beyond repair. It will need a surgical restructuring starting with the removal of Austine as CEO and his special adviser. We must send a clear message that Nigerians and Africans can start and run efficient and corrupt-free institutions for the betterment of our people. The AFC will be a test of how serious the present government is with the rule of law and anti-corruption posture. Given his propensity for avarice, fraud and corruption, Austine Ometoruwa should be behind bars, and not as the CEO of an international organization.

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3 Responses to “AFC: Avarice, Fraud, and Corruption”

  1. not disclosed for now. call me says:

    Dear NIgerianMuse:

    This is a very perceptive article, but your assertion that:
    …From Citibank, AO went on to head Aliko Dangote Capital (AD Capital or ADC)… IS WRONG.
    I am the D in AD Capital Partners. I formed AD Capital Partners with AO in 2005 and in less tha 1 year, I had to dissolve it as AO proved to be unethical and corrupt. I was the organizational brains behind ADC. Yes Dangote was a key client, among others.
    I was also involved withthe early AFC plans and I warned precisely against AO\’s record of corruption. I have more telling insights on someof the board members of AFC.
    If you\’re interested in a scoop, call me on +44.7767.605.910 and we can have an expose.

    • claire williams says:

      The main gist of the story, which you seem to agree with, has been confirmed by the Panel: Austine Ometoruwa is unethical and corrupt. He should be behind bars.

      He lacks any iota of leadership for such a pan-african organization. You can be contacted by email, if you are interested.

  2. DHY says:

    please contact me on dhy@hotmail.com

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