The mystery surrounding the alleged illegal Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation account with JP Morgan was finally cleared on Tuesday by the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
She said at a dialogue organised by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group and the Organised Private Sector in Lagos on Tuesday, that the account was not secretly kept, since it (account) was operated by the NNPC.
There has been lingering controversy over which institution runs the account. Okonjo-Iweala, had before now said she knew of the account, but insisted that it was not maintained by the Finance ministry.
The NNPC had also said that the ‘secret’ account was opened and solely managed by the CBN. But the CBN, in a statement by its Director, Corporate Communications Department, Mr. Ugo Okoroafor, had accused the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation of opening the account in 2002.
Okonjo-Iweala, however, said on Tuesday, “Yes, the NNPC has a foreign account with JP Morgan, and they are the ones running it. I don’t operate the account. However, the CBN is aware of the account because all the accounts of government itself are with the CBN. The CBN is the government banker.
“In fairness to the NNPC, if you have been asked to undertake financial transaction on behalf of government, when you are doing a financial transaction, you need an account, that is what I tried to explain to the National Assembly, because they can’t do commercial transaction without it. The issue is not that they have an account with JP Morgan, the issue is when resources get into the account, do they remit it to the government because that is what they need to do.”
Meanwhile, the finance minister has said that President Goodluck Jonathan had ordered that a group should be formed to look into the development banks in the country.
Okonjo-Iweala said, “We need to look at the structure of interest rate in this country, although the CBN has started looking into it.”