Nigeria suspends central bank chief for financial recklessness

Updated 20 February 2014
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Nigeria suspends central bank chief for financial recklessness

ABUJA: Nigeria suspended the central bank governor on Thursday for alleged financial recklessness after he accused the state oil company of misappropriating $20 billion (14.5 billion euros) of public funds.
Lamido Sanusi, whose term was due to expire in June, became embroiled in controversy after he charged the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) with gross mismanagement and corruption.
A statement from President Goodluck Jonathan's office said probes into Sanusi's performance revealed that his "tenure has been characterized by various acts of financial recklessness and misconduct".
It announced his "immediate suspension" as the central bank boss. He is to be replaced by the bank's most senior deputy governor, Sarah Alade.
Sanusi has alleged that Nigeria lost out on $20 billion between January 2012 and July 2013 partly related to suspicious kerosene subsidy payments by the NNPC.
NNPC, long regarded as being riddled with corruption, was branded this week on the cover of the prominent News magazine as "Nigeria's Sleaze Machine."
The company has hit back at Sanusi, saying he does not under the technicalities of the oil industry.
Financial analysts, both within Nigeria and abroad, have applauded Sanusi's tenure in Africa's most populous country, top oil producer and second largest economy.
He was credited with overhauling a crumbling and deeply corrupt banking sector which teetered on the brink of collapse following the outbreak of the global financial crisis in 2008.
He also earned praise for bold moves to protect the Nigerian naira, although the currency has fallen against the dollar in recent weeks.
Sanusi opened himself to criticism over the NNPC affair after he first alleged last year that oil-related revenues of $50 billion had not been paid into government coffers, which amounts to nearly double Nigeria's annual budget.
In the face of enormous political pressure, Sanusi backtracked and said some of the missing money had been accounted for and that further investigations were needed.
He then revised the missing money figure down to $12 billion.
But earlier this month, he insisted the figure was $20 billion.
A Financial Times report, citing Sanusi's private documentation, alleged that the NNPC was continuing to pay subsidies to kerosene vendors even though Nigerians still pay full market price for the product.
Late President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua is believed to have scrapped the kerosene subsidy in 2009, meaning the NNPC subsidy payments may be illegal while offering no benefits to consumers.
The NNPC has countered that the kerosene subsidy removal was never approved by lawmakers so the company must continue to make the payments. It blamed unethical kerosene sellers for the fact that consumers continue to pay full price.
Kayode Awotile of Lakeworth Investment and Securities, who criticized Thursday's move, said Sanusi has left Nigeria's "financial sector better than he met it".
"I do not think any reasonable government would want to penalize him" for demanding answers from Nigeria's widely criticized state oil company.
Nigeria has been attracting huge interest from foreign investors as an emerging economy that may offer strong returns in the coming years.
In a Feb. 19 report, London-based Capital Economics said Nigeria's monetary discipline under Sanusi had positioned the country to outperform the rest of Africa over the next decade.
It was not immediately clear if the turmoil surrounding Sanusi's last months on the job would tarnish this positive outlook, but Awotile said the priority for successor should be to "sustain his reformist nature."


‘Don’t be too optimistic’: Huawei employees fret at US ban

Updated 26 May 2019
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‘Don’t be too optimistic’: Huawei employees fret at US ban

  • This week Google, whose Android operating system powers most of the world’s smartphones, said it would cut ties with Huawei
  • Another critical partner, ARM Holdings, said it was complying with the US restrictions

BEIJING: While Huawei’s founder brushes aside a US ban against his company, the telecom giant’s employees have been less sanguine, confessing fears for their future in online chat rooms.
Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei declared this week the company has a hoard of microchips and the ability to make its own in order to withstand a potentially crippling US ban on using American components and software in its products.
“If you really want to know what’s going on with us, you can visit our Xinsheng Community,” Ren told Chinese media, alluding to Huawei’s internal forum partially open to viewers outside the company.
But a peek into Xinsheng shows his words have not reassured everyone within the Shenzhen-based company.
“During difficult times, what should we do as individuals?” posted an employee under the handle Xiao Feng on Thursday.
“At home reduce your debts and maintain enough cash,” Xiao Feng wrote.
“Make a plan for your financial assets and don’t be overly optimistic about your remuneration and income.”
This week Google, whose Android operating system powers most of the world’s smartphones, said it would cut ties with Huawei as a result of the ban.
Another critical partner, ARM Holdings — a British designer of semiconductors owned by Japanese group Softbank — said it was complying with the US restrictions.
“On its own Huawei can’t resolve this problem, we need to seek support from government policy,” one unnamed employee wrote last week, in a post that received dozens of likes and replies.
The employee outlined a plan for China to block off its smartphone market from all American components much in the same way Beijing fostered its Internet tech giants behind a “Great Firewall” that keeps out Google, Facebook, Twitter and dozens of other foreign companies.
“Our domestic market is big enough, we can use this opportunity to build up domestic suppliers and our ecosystem,” the employee wrote.
For his part, Ren advocated the opposite response in his interview with Chinese media.
“We should not promote populism; populism is detrimental to the country,” he said, noting that his family uses Apple products.
Other employees strategized ways to circumvent the US ban.
One advocated turning to Alibaba’s e-commerce platform Taobao to buy the needed components. Another dangled the prospect of setting up dozens of new companies to make purchases from US suppliers.
Many denounced the US and proposed China ban McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and all-American movies and TV shows.
“First time posting under my real name: we must do our jobs well, advance and retreat with our company,” said an employee named Xu Jin.
The tech ban caps months of US effort to isolate Huawei, whose equipment Washington fears could be used as a Trojan horse by Chinese intelligence services.
Still, last week Trump indicated he was willing to include a fix for Huawei in a trade deal that the two economic giants have struggled to seal and US officials issued a 90-day reprieve on the ban.
In Xinsheng, an employee with the handle Youxin lamented: “I want to advance and retreat alongside the company, but then my boss told me to pack up and go,” followed by two sad-face emoticons.