Reps discover massive Insurance fraud in Customs, invite CG

Determined to unravel the alleged massive sharp practices by some insurance Companies handling insurance policy for Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs of the Federal Government, the House of Representatives has summoned the Controller General (CG) of the Nigerian Customs Service  (NCS) Col Ibrahim Ali (rtd) to appear before its Ad-hoc Committee  on Insurance proving the mishandling of  transactions between 2013 and 2105.

The Committee headed by Hon Adekunle Akinlade gave the order at the weekend following the  failure of the NCS  to  furnish it with details of its insurance transactions between 2013 and 2105 despite receiving official correspondences from the Committee before the commencement of the investigation.

The Committee also sent warning  signals to all the Chief Executive Officers, CEOs, of the Insurance Companies that were yet to respond to its  summon to do so immediately or risk being arrested by Security Agencies in line with the provisions of the land, saying that there would be no hiding place for defaulting Companies as it was no longer business as usual under the new dispensation.

In addition, the Committee made it clear that it would recall all retired  Civil servants found culpable in the insurance scam to refund every kobo traced them while those still in the service apart from making refund would be sanctioned in line with the Civil service rules to serve as deterrent to others.

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The Chairman of the Committee who vowed that the Committee  would leave no stone unturned to unearth  the under hand deals between the MDA’S and the  insurance firms during the period disclosed  that he had already directed the Corporate affairs commission (CAC) to furnish the committee with vital information of all brokerage firms, and their bank accounts in other to get to the root of the matter.

Honourable Akinlade  expressed the disappointment of the Committee on how insurance companies deliberately made efforts to confuse  it through  omission and distortion of facts in their presentations before it.

According to Akinlade, “the issue is that these companies got business consistently just because some people in the MDAs are being paid, we want to know why it is them all the time that only know the job.

“Since the commencement of this investigation, we have sent invitations to the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) but they have refused to make submission to the Committee.

“We are summoning the CG of Customs to come and explain why he refused to honour the Committee and why it engaged services of unlicensed brokers and agents that were  over a quarter of a billion naira.

“Many of the insurance companies that have appeared  deliberately gave us wrong information thinking that we can never go to the extent of scrutinising every details in their submissions.

“Having discovered that it is not business as usual, all the Chief Executive Officers   are now saying they did not know about the figures quoted in their documents which the personally signed and  submitted to us.

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“What they want now is to give us (Committee) new figures because the earlier ones were no longer correct. We will oblige them but in their new submissions, every cover must be accompanied by relevant documents to prove the authenticity of the new figures”.

In the course of the investigation which started last week, two Insurance companies, Guinea Insurance and Stacco were discovered to have carried out insurance transactions with unregistered broking firms.

While interrogating. Stacco representative, Shodipe Olanipekun, it was discovered that N290m, N180m,l and N200m were paid to unregistered brokers between 2013 and 2015 as against the provisions of the Insurance Act and NICOM Act. respectively.

Also , Guinea Insurance was equally discovered to have transacted business of about N250m with unlicensed brokers  in the period under review.

The CEOs of the two companies however denied being involved in the infractions and  maintained  that insurance companies have no power to appoint brokers for MDAs to underwrite their covers.

The CEOs also insisted that their companies were not responsible for the figures quoted by the Committee which were the commissions due the brokers.

According to them, the brokers had deducted their commissions before transferring the net sum for the cover in question.

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When confronted with the penalties prescribed by law for engaging unlicensed brokers, Stacco  Managing Director, Shodipe Olanipekun said it was the duty of Nigerian Insurance Commission (NICOM) to update the industry with comprehensive list of industry players periodically.

He insisted on not being liable for the identified infractions involving unlicensed brokers.

On her part, Mrs Isioma Okukoko of the Guinea Insurance corrected figures ascribed to her company, that it was N7m that was paid and not N125m in one of the several identified infractions.

Earlier, Akinlade had said that the ad hoc  Committee was mandated to carry out the investigation after being informed through a petition that something was not right as only same ser of insurance and broking firms were being patronised by MDAs.

Akinlade also said that the petitioner complained that premium paid to the insurance firm soften found their ways back to certain government officials.

The managements of the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPP) and NICOM have also been invited for clarifications on presentations of the MDAs and the insurance companies.

According to the Chairman, who threatened to publish names and figures misappropriated by  MDAs and insurance companies, only 42 insurance companies responded to its invitation while the MDAs were expected to begin their appearance from Wednesday.

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