How Soludo’s CBN awarded banknote contract

The Nation today reports that some top officials of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) were neck-deep in the polymer banknote contract. It will be recalled that the former CBN governor Prof Soludo denied that the CBN was in any way involved in the award of the contract. The contract for the polymer currency was awarded during the tenure of Chukwuma Soludo as CBN boss. Soludo who is running

 for the Anambra State gubernatorial election on the platform of the PDP had first printed the N20 denomination on polymer. Three other denominations – N5, N10 and N50 – were recently issued on polymer.

CBN Governor Chukwuma Soludo was quoted by a local newspaper as saying that CBN only placed an order with the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company Limited Plc, and that CBN could not have been involved in the bribery of Nigerian officials by the Australian printing company, The Securency.

But according to a source in the CBN, it is only the central bank that could have awarded the contract for the printing of the polymer notes because the CBN has majority stake of 77 per cent in Nigeria’s Mint reported on October 5, 2009 that the former CBN governor, Charles Soludo was named as one of the officials that received bribes allegedly paid to Nigerian officials in order to secure contracts for the printing of polymer naira notes.

According The Nation Newspaper, documents have shown that five companies bid for the contract before it was awarded to two.

President Umaru Yar‘Adua launched the new N5, N10 and N50 polymer notes on September 30 at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The circulation of the new bank notes coincided with Nigeria’s 49th Independence Anniversary Day celebration.

Barely a few days after the launch, there were reports of underhand deals between some CBN officials and Securency International Pty of Australia – suppliers of the material for the notes.The Australian Federal Police (AFP) is probing alleged N750million offered by Securency to win the contract, which was awarded before Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi governorship.

The Nation continues: 

But documents obtained by The Nation revealed that five companies bid for the contract.

The companies are: Global Securency (Australia); Gieesecke and Devrient (G &D) of Germany; De La Rue (the UK); FC Oberther (France) and Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company (NSPMC).

The bid was opened on March 27, 2006. It was concluded by April 4, 2006.

A March 16, 2006 letter from the Director of Currency and Banking Operations of the CBN invited the five firms for the bid, after they had submitted “designs of the cover banknote denominations under the CBN Currency Restructuring Programme”. “You are expected to submit quotations for the printing of the redesigned N5, N10, N20, and N50 notes,” the companies were told.

The letter asked the five firms to also put “ex-factory price, cost of freight and NSPM commission (3%) in their quotations.”

The contract was awarded to the shortlisted firms on May 2, 2006.

A highly-placed source, who spoke in confidence with our correspondent, said: “After the bid, G&D and NSPMC were awarded the contract for the printing of the notes. But Global Securency won the bid for the production of blank polymer notes.

“So, the contract began and ended in CBN. Some top officials of the apex bank were neck-deep in the deal. If the CBN Governor, Mr. Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, is probing the alleged bribery scandal, he should look inward.

“The records are there on how the transactions took place. Let him call for all files and get details of who did what during the contract.” 

The firm, Securency, was found to have made a series of multimillion-dollar payments into offshore bank accounts of two British-based businessmen linked to the currency printing deal.

A confidential source revealed to that The Australia Federal Police Authority early this year sent a high level confidential security memo to the Presidency through the Office of the National Security adviser detailing bribery probe that centers on a series of multimillion-dollar payments by RBA firm Securency into offshore bank accounts of two British-based businessmen for onward transfer to Nigerian Government Officials to win a bank-note deal in the most serious development in a cash-for-contracts scandal.

Australian Federal Police taskforce had been investigating Securency for possible breaches of Australia’s criminal code, which outlaws payments to foreign officials.

Prominent amongst the names that featured in the secret memo is that of then CBN Governor, Charles Chukwuma Soludo, senior officials of the finance ministry and a former president.

The current CBN Governor Lamido Sanusi has promised that the Federal Government will investigate the allegation to determine if Central Bank officials received the alleged payoff.

Sanusi has officially sought clarifications from the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) on its bank-note firm’s dealings in Africa involved multimillion-dollar payments to offshore tax havens.
Sanusi described as ‘’disturbing’’ the revelation that more than $10 million in commissions were wired to accounts – including some in secretive tax havens – by the RBA’s bank-note firm Securency.