Nigeria’s largest brewer, Nigerian Breweries Plc has reacted to an alleged corruption case published by Premium Times. In a statement obtained by Nairametrics, the brewing company acknowledged that it’s aware of the incident that happened about two years ago and claimed that it had “moved to quickly to comprehensively address the issue.”
“At Heineken, we do not tolerate bribery or corruption at any level. If an allegation emerges, a thorough investigation is carried out to establish the facts and, if necessary disciplinary action is taken – regardless of the role or position. In this case, we took exactly that approach and moved quickly to comprehensively address the issue. Both the Board of Nigerian Breweries and HEINEKEN conducted an internal and external audit and investigation. “The Board and Management of Nigerian Breweries Plc remain committed to upholding Nigerian Laws and managing our operations in the most responsible and compliant way.”
Nigeria Breweries did not make any mention of the former CEO of Nigeria Breweries, Nico Vervelde and his wife Clémentine Vervelde accused of corruption in the article.
The alleged corruption: An award-winning investigative report by Follow the Money, a Dutch news website had revealed a corruption case involving the former CEO and his wife.
- A diesel supplier at Nigeria Breweries Amadu Sule alleged that he was given a contract to supply diesel by the Clementina after a meeting with her spouse at Radisson Blu Hotel, VI Lagos.
- In exchange for the giving him the contract, Sule was to give her kickbacks.
- Nigeria Breweries buys about 3 million litres of diesel per month for its several brewery plants across the country. It was valued at about $61 million
- The deal, however, went sour when several suppliers got interested in the deal and wanted a piece of the pie. Some accused Sule of supplying substandard diesel which he blamed on vested interest inside the company.
- Eventually, there was a fire that the company blamed on Sule’s company cutting back his supply quota.
- He eventually took the matter to the police forcing the company to transfer the CEO out of Nigeria to Singapore and paying about $2 million in settlement for the claims.
The optics: This case is a further justification of high-level corruption taken place at large corporations across Nigeria at the expense of shareholders. While these companies struggle with cutting costs and increasing bottom lines, managers line their pockets full of bribes and proceeds of insider and related party contracts.
It also reveals corruption complicity among foreign nationals holding top executive positions in Nigerian companies. The report claims the Vervelde’s denied the allegations of corruption, but Nigeria Breweries did not absolve them of corruption either. Nigeria Breweries share price is down 44% in the last one year.
China more willing to restructure Africa’s debt than private creditors
Agreements have been easier to reach with Chinese lenders than with private creditors.
A recent study by John Hopkins University reveals it may be easier for African Nations to raise debt and also get debt relief from China than private creditors.
The report of the study comes a day after China promised to cancel interests from loans to African nations and restructure debt to Africa. The study also revealed that China has restructured $15 billion of African debt and written off $3.4 billion in the past ten years.
After 1,000 Chinese loans, including restructured Mozambican and Republic of Congo debt, were analysed, the researchers concluded that “the agreements have been easier to reach with Chinese lenders than with private creditors”.
The Paris Club recently agreed to pause debt payment valued at $11 billion for the poorest 73 nations freeing up capital to tackle the coronavirus pandemic. However, not all eligible nations signed up citing fears of default ratings if debt obligations are not met.
The study discovers difficulties in renegotiating terms on International Bonds for African countries due to the disparate ownership structure making private creditors unwilling to grant complete debt relief, citing warnings on rating downgrades.
China accounts for about 20% of Africa’s external debt and lent over $150 billion to the continent between 2000-2018 the study reveals. Chinese President, Xi Jinping has urged global leaders to be more pragmatic with debt suspension for Africa.
The study says much of the terms of Chinese debt to Africa has not been transparent and the relief negotiations may follow the same path.
Orange, France’s largest telco operator, may come to Nigeria in months
Orange would also be looking at bolstering partnerships with health companies or institutions.
France’s largest telecom operator, Orange, is set to extend its tentacles to Nigeria and South Africa.
Chief Executive Officer, Orange, Stephane Richard, who disclosed the news, said that the firm would make the move in a few months.
He said, “It could make sense to be in economies such as Nigeria and South Africa. If one considers there are things to do, the time frame I am considering is rather a few months than a few years.”
The Middle East and Africa, where Orange has a presence in 18 countries, is the company’s fastest-growing market.
What you need to know: There are chances that the company may eye payment transfers (mobile) in Nigeria.
That is because it makes the largest chunk of its revenue from payment transfers (Middle East), a key part of the group’s diversification into financial services, and Nigeria, which is the most populous black nation, is always an attraction.
Meanwhile, earlier in 2020, Orange had stated that it was bringing its operations in the Middle East and Africa into a single entity, paving the way for a potential listing of the operations that could raise cash to invest in overseas expansion.
“Orange would also be looking at bolstering partnerships with health companies or institutions,” he added.
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LIRS further extends deadline for filing annual tax returns by one month
“We constantly debated what other measures could be taken as an organization to support individuals and businesses at this time, hence, the additional one-month extension from June 1, to June 30, 2020.” – Ayodele Subair
The Lagos State Internal Revenue Service (LIRS) has again extended the deadline for filing of Annual Tax Returns from May 31 2020 to June 30, 2020.
This is part of the state government’s effort to provide relief to taxpayers in light of the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. With this development, annual returns for individuals, both employees and self-employed persons, can be filed anytime before June 30, 2020.
In a press release signed by Monsurat Amasa, the head of LIRS’ Corporate Communications Department, the agency urged taxpayers to take advantage of the magnanimity of the government and file their returns. The LIRS’ Executive Chairman, Mr. Ayodele Subair, explained the extension thus:
“As the Lagos State Government keeps abreast of global best practices in containing the Covid-19 pandemic and eases the effects of an economic downturn on taxpayers and residents of the State, LIRS had initially extended the deadline for filing annual tax returns for two months, from the statutory March 31st of every fiscal year to May 31, 2020.
“We constantly debated what other measures could be taken as an organization to support individuals and businesses at this time, hence, the additional one-month extension from June 1, to June 30, 2020.”
He further explained that taxpayers can file the annual returns from the comfort of their homes and offices using the LIRS eTax platforms. They can also generate assessment and payment schedule, and other tax administration matters on the same platform. Updates on business operations and alternative payment platforms are to be found on the verified handles, and the LIRS website.