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Alleged Manipulation of Tax : Italian Construction company, Borini Prono, Battles Nigerian Police

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OLA KING

Alleged manipulation of tax : Italian Construction company, Borini Prono, Battles Nigerian Police 

   A limited liability company Borini Prono & company Nigeria Limited, whose Directors are under investigation over alleged crime of fraudulent practice to cheat the Federal Inland Revenue on tax and to deny contract facilitators of financial entitlement has dragged Inspector General of Police before a Federal high court sitting in Lagos.

      The Italian construction company is urging the court to restrain the defendants Police officers from inviting, interrogating, investigating, or detaining the officers of the company        Joined as co-respondents in the suit are, The Assistant Inspector General of Police CID zone 2 Police command, The Commissioner of Police CID zone 2 Command,The Assistant Commissioner of Police CID Zone 2 Command, and a Lagos businessman Christopher Uzodike.    In an affidavit sworn to by a Director of Borini Prono & Company Nigeria Limited, Paolo Prono of  11 Burma Road,Apapa,Lagos state averred that by invitation letter dated 20th March, 2019 Mr Gianfranco Albertazzi,, the Managing Director of the company was invited by the Zonal monitoring Unit of the Nigerian Police Force Zone 2 Headquarters    On 25th of March,2019 he reported at the Zone 2 Police Command, in the company of his lawyer, upon his arrival, he was shown a petition written against him by one Mr Christopher Uzodike on the basis of alleged outstanding contractual indebtedness of his company to him.      He was interrogated and was admitted and release  on administrative bail and was instructed to return on 2nd of April,2019with documentation in support of the position of his company.      He reported as instructed but officer in charge of his case was not available.
      However, to his utmost surprise at about 5am on the morning of 3rd April,2019 he was arrested at his residence in Ikoyi, Lagos, by officers from criminal and investigating Department Zone 2 Onikan Lagos and detained on the assertion that he failed to report as instructed.        Thereafter joint meeting was held with the petitioner, his lawyer with the officer in charge of the criminal investigation in respect of a second petition and was requested to report back on 10th April,2019.      On the 10th of April, he made statement on behalf of the company, and the commissioner in charge of CID after reading the content of the petition of Mr Uzodike  and questioning the parties came to the conclusion that the matter related to purely to civil contractual transaction which was outside the purview of the Nigerian Police,therefore he was requested to report back on May 6, 2019,    However,  he sought the advice of his lawyer, who advice him that, continuous, invitation, interrogation and arrest by the Police at every material time has continued to disrupt business and operation of the company, particularly in respect of critical road construction currently being executed.      

Consequently, he urged the court to restrain the defendants from further inviting, interrogating, investigating,or detaining, the Directors, Managers, Secretaries or any officer of the company as Nigerian Police being law enforcement agency, is not empowered to entertain petitions in respect of civil or contractual disputes. 

   However in a counter affidavit sworn to by Inspector Fidelis Ilobun, Police Officer, serving at Zonal Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department, Zone 2 Police command,  He claimed that he is a member of the Police Team that is investigating criminal allegations against the company  captioned Re: FRAUDULENT PRACTICES BY THE FOREIGN COMPANY BORINI PRONO & CO. (NIGERIA) LIMITED. TO CHEAT THE FEDERAL INLAND REVENUE OF TAX AND TO DENY LOCAL PARTNERS AND CONTRACT FACILITATORS OF THEIR HUGE FINANCIAL ENTITLEMENTS, reported to the  Assistant Inspector General of Police Criminal investigation Department Zone 2 by  a Lagos businessman Mr Christopher Uzodike against the Borini Prono company from which this suit arose.

   Inspector Ilobun who claimed to be a member of the Police Team investigating the criminal allegations of fraudulent practice to cheat the Federal Inland Revenue on tax and to deny local partners and contract facilitators of financial entitlements reported to the Assistant Inspector General of Police  against the Company stated that in the course of Police investigation of the alleged crime alleged  above,

 The police invited the officers of the Borini Prono company , namely; Messrs Gianfranco Albertazzi and Mr. Paolo Prono via Police invitation letter dated 29th March, 2019

 Mr Albertazzi reported at the Zone 2 Police command on 25th March, 2019 together with his Lawyer, Mr. Remi Dalley, and having read through the petition against the Applicant, volunteered statement to the Police as one of the officers of the company , who acted for it in his dealings with Mr Uzodike , from which the petition to the Police arose

   Mr. Albertazzi was granted Police administrative bail and released to his Lawyer who stood as surety for his bail on the same 25th March, 2019, immediately after his statement was made  to the Police.

  During his response to the criminal allegations made against his company   Mr. Albertazzi stated that the relationship which the company  had with Uzodike  was that he supplied iron rod and cement to the company  which they have fully paid for, with invoices for payment dully issued as evidence.

  The Police requested Mr. Albertazzi to produce the invoices evidence mentioned by him to the Police in order to assist Police investigation, and he was further requested to report back at the commissioner ‘s office for the interview of the parties, on the 2nd April, 2019, together with Mr. Prono, who failed to honour Police invitation along with Mr. Albertazzi on the said 25th March, 2019

  Despite that Albertazzi was duly informed by the Police and also informed in his bail bond executed by  him and his surety, to report back to the commissioner’s  office on 1st of April,2019.

    He failed to honour police invitation  on that day.

The failure of Albertazzi to report at the commissioner’s office on 1st of April ,2019,which was in clear violation of his bail bond, led to the cancellation of the commissioner’s interview schedule for both parties in the case, and the interview was therefore rescheduled to 2nd April, 2019.

   The rescheduled interview prompted the police to send another invitation letter to messrs Arlbertazzi and Prono on 2nd April,219 requesting them to report at the Commissioner of Police’s office on 2nd April 2019

Mr Albertazzi,  and Mr. Prono, again failed to honour police invitation to report  on 2nd April,2019, and no police officer informed him that commissioner was not in the office on that day.

   The Police did not arrest Mr. Arlbertazzi on 3rd April,2019 or on any other day.

   Due to the failure of Albertazzi and Prono to honour Police invitation letter served on them on 1st April,2019 to report on the  2nd April,2019 to find out the reason for his absence, but that 2nd of April,2019, he could not give any reasonable reason for at the instance of Albertazzi and his lawyer,  the interview for both parties was rescheduled for 10th April,2019.

   Mr Arlbertazzi together with Prono and Uzodike with their lawyers  all reported at the commissioner’s  office for the interview on 10th April,2019.Prono volunteered statement.

.  During the interview section, where Lawyer to both parties were also present, Mr. Arlbertazzi stated that it was iron rod and cement that the petitioner  supplied to the company , on which the company  duly issued invoices as evidence of supply and payment. This was vehemently denied by Uzodike  who maintained he is a contract facilitator to the company, on which the Applicant through Mr .Albertazzi and Mr. Prono, manufactured fraudulent invoices with the sole aim of  manipulating the Company’s taxes payable to Federal Government of Nigeria and cheat their contract facilitators.

   Based on these new facts discovered during the interview, the commissioner of Police in charge of criminal investigation Department  requested the company‘s officers, i.e. Mr .Arlbertazzi and Mr Prono to make the invoices mentioned by them and disputed by Uzordike available to the police, to assist the on-going investigation.

   The commissioner  did not made any statement that suggest the Uzodike’s petition was a civil contractual transactions. Rather the commissioner  requested the company officer i.e.  Mr. Arbertazzi and  Mr.Prono to make the invoices mentioned by them  available to the police, to assist, the on –going  investigation ,and  directed  the police team investigating the case to continue with their  investigation and report their findings at the conclusion of their investigation.

 Despite Police earlier request and   the commissioner’s  further  request to the company ’s officers, i.e.  Mr .Arbertazzi and Mr.Prono, to produce the invoices mentioned by them  to the police for investigation so as to unravel the purpose and intent for which the invoices were made by the company, but they blatantly refused to produce  the invoices to the  police till date.

But since 10th of  April, 2019 Mr. Arbertazzi and Prono, has been engaging in ‘hide and seek’ as they have jumped police administrative bail and absconded from investigation, having also failed to produce the alleged invoices to the police for investigation.

  The police were still waiting and hoping that Mr.Arbertazzi and Prono will produce the invoices mentioned by them to the police when they  received the company ’s suit.

  The case reported by Uzodike to the Assisstant Inspector General of Police In charge of Criminal investigation  is not a mere civil contractual   transactions, but   alleged crime of fraudulent practice to cheat the Federal inland Revenue on tax and to deny contract facilitators of financial entitlement.

 The alleged manufacturing and manipulation of invoices by the Applicants, Mr.Arlbertazzi and Prono, to cheat  Government of taxes and cheat their contract facilitators, are criminal allegations which police has powers to investigate.

   No contractual debt was mentioned by the  petitioner in his petition to the police and the police is not investigating debt from the company. 

 The company  cannot seek injunction from the court to restrain the police from investigating alleged crime.

 The company  is not entitle to order of injunction against the Police to stop them from investigating criminal allegations made to them by the petitioner  against the Borini Prono company .

  The police have not done anything in their investigation of alleged crime reported to them against the company  that is out the area and duties of investigation.

 The company  is not entitled to any damages or cost against the Police who are merely performing their statutory duties of investigation. 

     The suit and claim against the Police  is  pre-emptive, speculative, frivolous and aimed mainly to frustrate Police investigation of the alleged crime reported to them.

 The Respondents Police officers and the Nigeria Police force will be prejudice if the company’s claim against them is granted by the court because it will stop them from performing their statutory duty of investigation.

      Consequently, the respondent Police officers urge the court to dismiss the claim of the company.

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Airtel Africa Enters Into UK’s FTSE 100 Index

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Airtel Africa

Bharti Airtel’s subsidiary Airtel Africa to become part of the FTSE 100 index, the UK’s leading stock market gauge, from January 31.

According to Bharti chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal, “This is a significant milestone for Airtel Africa, which becomes part of the FTSE 100 in just two and a half years of listing on the London Stock Exchange joining the most valuable companies,”

Airtel Africa was listed on the London Stock Exchange in June 2019. The company commands a market capitalization of close to $8 billion.

Airtel Africa Enters Into UK’s FTSE 100 Index

Bharti Airtel said that the inclusion in the FTSE 100 index was the mark of the growing confidence of investors in the business.

“Airtel entered Africa in 2010 and the business has demonstrated consistent growth in its customer base, revenues, profits, margins, and cash generation, as well as strengthening its balance sheet through reduced leverage,” Bharti Airtel said.

Airtel Africa serves around 122 million subscribers across the continent. In the six-month period ended September 30, Airtel Africa’s revenue grew 25.2 percent to $2.3 billion while its net profit doubled to $335 million.

“Airtel Africa is a strong player in the African continent, which has emerged as the next growth frontier globally,” Mittal said.

At 2.56 pm, Bharti Airtel was trading 0.4 percent down at Rs 709.95 on the National Stock Exchange.


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Avoid Loan Sharks, Leverage On Microfinance Banks, Emefiele Tells Nigerians

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Godwin Emefiele, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), says Nigerians should beware of illegal money lenders, known as loan sharks.

Emefiele said this on Tuesday at the end monetary policy committee meeting in Abuja.

Loan sharks offer loans at extremely high rate returns, strict terms of collection upon failure, and generally operate outside the law.

The CBN governor explained that those who go to collect loans from places other than microfinance banks or recognized institutions are at bigger risk.

“There is no need for you to go to loan sharks for a loan. People normally go to loan sharks because they are desperate and can’t access the bank,” Emefiele said.

“We found out that those that are vulnerable are households who need money to do their businesses but they can’t access bank finance and as a result go to loan sharks who charge them way above or two times higher than the amount borrowed and expected to pay back in 90 days and if that doesn’t happen, they seize your house or bikes.

Avoid Loan Sharks, Leverage On Microfinance Banks, Emefiele Tells Nigerians

“We can only continue to advise that there is no need to go for loan sharks. The central bank has put in place the avenue through which you can raise your finance, like through the target credit facility or the SMEs loan that was set up through our microfinance banks.

“You don’t have to owe anybody, just go to the portal and fill the form, send your data, and if it’s correct, you will be able to access loans.”

He said several people have benefited from the microfinance strategy to give out loans at affordable return rates, adding that CBN will go after loan shark perpetrators.

“We have a large number of people who have testimonials from the facilities we’ve made available and do not have to owe anybody,” the apex bank governor said.

“The bank is putting effort to stop loan sharks, and when these people are found, they will be dealt with mercilessly.”


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Prepaid Card Transaction Value To Exceed $4.1 Trillion By 2026 Globally

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Prepaid Card Transaction

… As Financial Inclusion Drives Usage

A new study from Juniper Research has found that the value of transactions made over prepaid cards will exceed $4.1 trillion globally in 2026; up from $2.3 trillion in 2021 – a substantial growth of 75%.

By 2026, prepaid card transaction value will be just over 50% higher than that forecast for contactless payment transactions; illustrating the importance of this market.

The growth in prepaid cards will be driven by the ongoing replacement of cash, as economies move increasingly towards digital payments.

The research identified prepaid cards as being critical to ensuring that the unbanked are included in the rush for digital payments. The research recommends that vendors focus on building robust distribution platforms that can cope with issuing cards at scale and at low cost, or they will lose out to better-equipped vendors.

For more insights, download the free whitepaper: Prepaid Cards ~ Advancing Financial Inclusion

Prepaid Cards Driving Significant Fee Revenue

The new research, Prepaid Cards: Trends, Vendor Strategies & Market Forecasts 2022-2026, found that the growth of the prepaid market will present a significant revenue opportunity for prepaid card platforms, with fee revenue reaching over $32 billion globally in 2026, from $22 billion in 2021. The report recommends that focusing on critical capabilities, such as restricted authorisation, which enables issuers to specify where funds can be spent, will pay dividends in the longer term.

Research author Nick Maynard explained: “Tools such as restricted authorisation and digital issuance will enable prepaid cards to benefit from the evolution of traditional gift cards into full-blown prepaid cards, driving significant revenue.”

US Is Largest Prepaid Market, but Other Opportunities Emerging

The research found that while the US will account for over 43% of global transaction values in 2026, there are other significant opportunities emerging. China is seeing increasing prepaid use, and as international tourism recovers, prepaid cards for travel money can benefit. The report also highlighted emerging markets as a key area of interest and recommended that platforms form partnerships now in order to best exploit future opportunities.


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