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World’s fourth wealthiest man, Warren Buffett, loses €643m to scammers

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Warren Buffett, world’s fourth wealthiest man has been swindled by a German manufacturing company of €643million.

This happened when the normally shrewd investor was made to pay four times more than he ought to have paid to buy Wilhelm Schulz, a family-run manufacturer of stainless steel based in Krefeld, western Germany.

According to the finding of a New York arbitration court, Buffett’s company, Precision Castparts Corp ought not to have paid more than €156m for the German firm.

It ordered Schulz to make up the difference of €643m.

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After the ruling in the US, a state prosecutor in Düsseldorf is now investigating the pipe maker, under suspicion of severe fraud for forging documents and falsifying balance sheets.

The forgery was done via Photoshopping of company orders and invoices, giving the notion that the company was doing very well.

In February 2017 a unit of Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc, Precision Castparts Corp paid €800m (£715m) to buy Wilhelm Schulz.

After an anonymous tip-off by a whistleblower in May the same year, however, the US holding company began to question whether key documents had been doctored to create the impression of a booming business.

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In reality, the company Buffett had just purchased was struggling and at risk of bankruptcy.

On 9 April a New York arbitration court ruled that the German company had systematically led investors astray in the run-up to the purchase and then tried to cover its tracks afterwards.

“This is not a close case,” the panel said in a 132-page ruling. “The evidence strongly points to fraud, and there is little in the record to suggest otherwise.”

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Internal documents cited by the German newspaper Handelsblatt suggest some of Wilhelm Schulz’s employees inflated the company’s Ebitda – earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation – by simply scanning in letterheads of third companies and Photoshopping them to create fake orders and invoices.

At least 47 business deals that had helped create the impression of a company on the up were completely fabricated, said Handelsblatt.

The Guardian

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FMDQ admits Axxela’s N11.5bn bond

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THE FMDQ Group, through its subsidiary, FMDQ Security Exchange Limited, has admitted the Axxela Funding 1 PLC N11.50 billion Series 1 Bond on its platform.

This was disclosed by the FMDQ Group in a statement in Lagos.

The statement explained that FMDQ admitted the N11.5 billion Series 1 Bond, a which is under the Axxela Funding N50 billion bond program on its platform.

Axxela Funding 1 PLC is a special purpose vehicle (SPV) incorporated by Axxela Limited to raise funds through the issuance of debt securities in the domestic capital market.

According to the statement, “Axxela Limited, owned by Helios Investment Partners, is a natural gas shipping company on the West African Gas Pipeline, providing unique energy solutions with presence in Nigeria and gas export operations in neighboring West African countries.

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“The admittance of the Axxela bond is testament to the opportunities which the Nigeria Debt Market Capital (DCM) avails to corporates in diverse business areas and further, to the potential of the market to support stakeholders effectively even as they carry on their activities in the face of the pandemic.

“The Axxela bond, by its listing on FMDQ, shall be admitted onto the FMDQ Daily Quotations List; thus, promoting the much-needed transparency for investors and providing a credible basis for portfolio valuation daily.

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Also, through the global visibility which the FMDQ website and systems guarantee, the corporate profile of the issuer is raised even further ahead of tapping into other opportunities in the Nigerian capital market.”

The FMDQ revealed that the Nigerian Debt Capital Market plays an important role in the efficient mobilization and allocation of resources in the economy. Despite the impact of the current economic crisis, the market had continued to effectively support corporate firms looking to expand their business operations.

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Therefore, the FMDQ, in its role as a market organizer of the Nigerian Debt Capital Market, amongst others, has continued to provide stakeholders in the Nigerian capital market with a credible and robust platform for capital access, risk management and transfer of value.

This means that Axxela Series 1 Funding will have the opportunity to global visibility through FMDQ Exchange’s website and systems.

The Series 1 bond would be included in FMDQ Daily Quotations List, in order to ensure and maintain information transparency.

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1,773 NDDC contractors allegedly abscond with mobilisation fees

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A total of 1,773 contractors were allegedly paid N70.495 billion by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC)  as mobilization fees without resorting to the site between 2008 and 2012. This was revealed as the House of Representatives at the weekend kicked-off its investigation into the N70.495 billion allegedly paid by the commission to the contractors.

Chairman, House Committee on Public Accounts, Honourable Wole Oke, who presided over the investigative hearing into the audit queries from the Auditor-General for the Federation (oAuGF) for the period under review, underscored the need for the NDDC acting managing director, Professor Pondei Kemerbrandikumo, to provide details of the projects and list of all defaulting contractors.

The commission’s boss is also to come along with a statement of accounts showing the recovered funds as alluded to by its acting director of internal audit, Mr. Itu Eno Ubi, who said only the sum of N19 billion is yet to be recovered from the contractors.

According to the Auditor- General of the Federation, 219 audit queries were issued by his office against NDDC. As stipulated in the audit report, 90 percent of the contractors collected the mandatory mobilization fees without resorting to the site between 2011 and 2012, for contracts that ought to be have been completed within six months.

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However, 60 percent of the contractors had, during the investigation, argued that they had completed the projects, adding that the claims are frivolous and cannot be verified. While noting that the same contractors were being recycled by the commission, the Auditor-General of the Federation maintained that the action taken by NDDC management has done more harm to the system over the years.

To this end, the Auditor-General of the Federation, in his recommendations, urged the House Committee on Public Accounts to ensure that NDDC management explains the rationale behind the contractors’ failure to execute the projects after collecting the mobilization fees, the status of the bonds signed by the contractors and why appropriate sanctions should not be applied to the contractors.

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In his response, the NDDC acting managing director, who was represented by Ubi, argued that the funds were released to the banks that guaranteed the contractors. He added that the funds had been recovered from some of the erring contractors, leaving the balance of N19 billion outstanding against the N70 billion outstanding alluded to in the audit queries.

He maintained that the management of NDDC made efforts to recover the outstanding advanced bank guarantees from the banks, adding that some of the contractors were unable to complete the projects due to the insecurity situation in the oil-producing region.

Honourable Oke, who frowned on the failure of the commission to address various issues raised in the audit queries between 2008 and 2012, said: “What the auditor-general did was to invoke Section 4 of the Audit Act to discover the anomalies in the NDDC.

“The main issue is whether the interim management committee has rendered the account up to 2018. We stopped in 2018 due to the coronavirus pandemic, but clearly there are issues here and there.” While stressing the need to ensure accountability of all public funds accrued into the coffers of the commission, the lawmakers directed the NDDC management to provide the letters of award of all the contracts and the commission’s statement of accounts showing the refund of more than N50 billion as claimed by the acting director, internal audit.

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The lawmakers also unveiled resolve to embark on physical inspection of all the projects, with the view to ascertaining the veracity of the claims made by NDDC. On the other hand, the committee resolved to formally direct all the banks being operated by NDDC to submit documentary evidence on the status of the ABG tendered by the contractors with the view to ascertaining whether it has expired or reviewed before taking further legislative action.

To this end, Oke directed that the NDDC management and other stakeholders should appear today at 11.00 a.m.

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JUST IN: Nigeria records 571 new cases of COVID-19, total now 32,558

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Nigeria on Sunday night recorded 571 new cases of COVID-19

According to a tweet from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the total number of cases so far in Nigeria is now 32,558.

The NCDC further revealed that 740 people have died from the virus, with 13,447 patients discharged.

A beak-down state by state of the infected on Sunday night is as follows: Lagos – 152, Ebonyi – 108, Edo – 53, Ondo – 46, FCT – 38, Oyo – 20, Kwara – 19, Plateau – 17, Osun – 14, Bayelsa – 14, Ekiti – 14, Katsina – 14, Akwa Ibom – 11, Kaduna – 11, Rivers – 11, Niger – 10, Ogun – 7, Kano – 6, Cross River – 4, Bauchi – 2.

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571 new cases of #COVID19 Nigeria;  Lagos-152 Ebonyi-108 Edo-53 Ondo-46 FCT-38 Oyo-20 Kwara-19 Plateau-17 Osun-14 Bayelsa-14 Ekiti-14 Katsina-14 Akwa Ibom-11 Kaduna-11 Rivers-11 Niger-10 Ogun-7 Kano-6 Cross River-4

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