An investigative panel set up in July to probe missing Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) pension funds, has discovered about 2.2 million pounds (N567 million) stashed in an account in Barclays Bank, in the United Kingdom.
Meanwhile, chairman of the panel, and former Auditor-General of the Federation, Joseph Ajiboye, also revealed that the panel met with difficulty in getting documents relevant to the investigation, including the financial statement of PHCN.
The panel was put together by the former minister of Power, Barth Nnaji, to investigate pension matters in PHCN, including supposedly missing funds from the Superannuation funds, an in house pension scheme being run by PHCN.
The panel, presenting its findings to the minister of State for Power, Darius Ishaku, in Abuja yesterday, noted that its investigations go back as far as 1990.
Ajiboye said, “We found out that there is about 2,204,814.18 pounds still in London unutilised, and we understand that there have been efforts to retrieve the money that is laying idle in the Barclays Bank.
“We also feel that other successor companies of the PHCN should be made to account for money they spend…; we urge a full audit of all the monies that have been given to the successor companies, especially the monies for pension. There were efforts to get the money back but there were bottlenecks. We believe the Nigerian High Commissioner in London can help in retrieving the money,’’
On how the money got to Barclays Bank, Ajiboye explained that findings showed that PHCN had expatriates at the initial stage, whose pensions were supposed to be paid. “But we understand that the last expatriate has since died, so there’s no more need for the account to continue to exist,’’ he said.
More findings also reveal that between 1990 and 2010, the total amount of money remitted into the PHCN superannuation fund, was N53.6 billion. A breakdown showed that between 1990 and 1999 a total of N1.7 billion was remitted into the fund, while N51.2 billion was remitted between 2000 and 2010.
On the controversial 25 per cent allegedly deducted from PHCN workers salaries, Ajiboye explained that findings from meetings held with the Nigerian Union of Pensioners and pay slips for up to April 2012 presented by PHCN workers, revealed that there was no evidence of deductions from any workers salary.
‘’All 25 per cent remittance into the superannuation fund was made by PHCN management. The pension fund is not funded by government as was the case of the police and military pensions. It was from their revenue that they funded their pensions.
“Since they have been recording losses for some years now, there was sometimes no money to set aside to fund the pension. The current expenditure of PHCN is not budgeted, they make their money and pay their staff and run their business,’’ he said.
The panel also disclosed that one of PHCN’s properties in Kado, Abuja was purportedly sold by PHCN management, to generate money for the pension fund, but noted that there was no record of the money paid into the fund.
In his remarks, Ishaku, who commended the panel for their effort to deliver the report on schedule, expressed the hope that the report would aid in finding a lasting solution to the lingering PHCN/labour issue which has now been transferred to the office of the Secretary to the Federal Government (SGF).