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Business News of Monday, 6 November 2023


Dangote, BUA trade blame over alleged forex deal probe

Dangote and BUA Dangote and BUA

Dangote Industries Limited and one of its major competitors, BUA Group, are making different claims on reports that the former was being probed for illegal foreign exchange deals.

Dangote Group claimed that BUA Group was spreading inaccurate and detrimental information about it.

In a statement by the company, Dangote Industries refuted allegations that it had engaged in illegal foreign exchange deals, warning those peddling the allegation of economic sabotage against the company to desist.

Some online media had reported that the Special Investigator, Jim Obazee, who was commissioned by the look into the Central Bank of Nigeria under the leadership of the former CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, was probing the company for alleged illegal forex deals and money laundering.

DIL described the allegation as spurious and a rehash of a similar report peddled out of malice by a competitor, BUA Group, masquerading as a concerned Nigerian in 2016.

It stated, “Dangote recalled that the spurious and false story was started in 2016 and published in both BusinessDay and Leadership Newspapers, and accused the authors of the report of rejigging it to make it appear as authentic and a new development. It is saddening to note that this publication of Monday, March 14, 2016, in BusinessDay and Leadership newspaper, where the author had alleged that about ‘$3bn foreign exchange sourced from the CBN were diverted to other Dangote companies outside Nigeria, a practice that encourages round tripping and effect money laundering since there is no proper documentation.’”

The company explained that the same false report back in 2016 was now being given a fresh false slant by one Ahmed Fahad purporting it to be a new petition directed to the attention of President Bola Tinubu and Obazee and subsequently different blogs and social media platforms had been carrying variants of the alleged falsehood to the detriment of its corporate reputation.

It further remarked, “Attempts by the authors of this misleading allegation to give it a fresh life in the media is baffling as the two newspapers that were misguided into publishing it as advertorial then (2016) have since publicly apologised to the Management of Dangote Industries Limited in writing as well as retracted the advertorial in its entirety in their respective publications. Indeed, BusinessDay and Leadership Newspapers admitted that the advertorial was sponsored by Messrs. BUA Nigeria Limited.”

DIL averred that forex for its projects was sourced from the interbank forex in compliance with the CBN approvals, adding that Letters of Credit were established for the construction of the various operational plants and for the purchase of heavy equipment and spares required for the take-off of the Dangote Cement plants.

“Thus all FX purchased in respect of our African projects expansion were fully utilised for what they were meant for. The projects for which the FX was utilised are visible for everyone to see. It is on record that some of these projects were commissioned by Nigerian top-ranking government officials and in attendance were chief executives of various banks, captains of industries, and the presidents of the host countries supported by their senior government officials.”

Reacting to DIL’s claim, BUA Group in the statement said the allegations were attempts by the company to blackmail it.

It alleged that the Dangote Group had made several acts of sabotage against its businesses and operations across the country.

The statement read in part, “It’s with a profound sense of responsibility and a heavy heart that we address the claims and very cheap attempts at blackmail levelled against BUA by Aliko Dangote in a recent 7-page editorial following months of sponsored campaigns of calumny against us using third-party platforms. To put things in perspective, it’s imperative to revisit history, a history not of rivalry but of resilience; not of enmity, but of endurance. Our survival as a business, especially our Lagos sugar refinery is a legacy handed to us by a loving father, who seeing his son’s distress, did what only the noblest and kindest of hearts could do. With unwavering faith, our chairman’s late father—may his soul rest in eternal peace- handed him the land on which our Lagos sugar refinery stands today.

“This land was the location of one of his thriving businesses with a warehouse, which he shut down and handed to us without asking for compensation. He just saw the pain of our chairman, Abdul Samad Rabiu, who called him one day and handed him the papers to the land. Our businesses continued to surge forward amid several other attempts, too many to mention now. In 2007, under President Yar’Adua’s visionary mandate to broaden Nigeria’s cement industry and break the monopoly in the sector, BUA was among the six companies selected and granted licenses.”

BUA claimed that though its approach was unconventional, it was effective; hence, it introduced a floating terminal – ‘BUA CEMENT I,’ “which was a cement factory built into a large ship, as a stopgap while we were working on securing our land-based cement plant”.

The statement added, “What followed, however, was another act intended to drive us out of business. Our application to dock the floating terminal in Lagos met with resistance. We then decided to berth the ship at the terminal we owned in Port Harcourt. Despite this, we faced considerable pushback and it took the decisive intervention of late President Yar’Adua, who directed that the Minister of Transport and the Chairman of NPA honour our right to contribute to the nation’s growth. But the hurdles didn’t end there. The drama intensified when Orwell Brown, a Deputy Comptroller General, who was also an older brother to a Dangote Staff (sic), launched a sudden strike, attempting to deport our vessel’s entire expatriate crew.”

The firm noted that through all those tribulations, its resolve had only strengthened.

“These events narrate not just the trials of a company but the resolve of its people, bound together by a shared vision and an unwavering belief in justice and fairness. We also know what transpired whilst we were building our Edo Cement Plant. Everyone knows the issues we face. The plant we are operating in Edo would not have been operating and contributing immensely to the economy, if not for former President Buhari, who had to intervene by calling Governor Obaseki that no staff must lose their jobs and the plant must not be shut down, no matter what happens. We cannot say more as the matter is currently sub judice – and is at the Supreme Court. During that time, Edwin Devakumar and Sunday Esan (two long-time and current staff of Dangote) were caught in leaked emails, whose content were not limited to sending thugs to foment trouble, close our factory as well as pushing bad press against us.