6 September 2012

Nigeria: Subsidy Scam - EFCC to Arraign More Marketers Next Week

Photo: The Vanguard
Fuel Subsidy

As the Lagos State High Court resumes from its annual vacation, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) will from next week commence the arraignment of more directors of oil marketing and trading companies (OM&Ts), THISDAY has learnt.

The courts had on July 16, 2012 gone on recess, necessitating the suspension of arraignment of more directors and their companies, irrespective of the ones earlier arraigned.

Confirming the development Wednesday, an EFCC source said that the commission was putting the finishing touches to their case files for possible arraignment starting next week.

The EFCC had arraigned some directors and oil marketing companies before Justices Habeeb Abiru and Adeniyi Onigbanjo of the Ikeja High Court charging them with conspiracy, obtaining money under false pretence, forgery and use of false documents.

Those arraigned before Justice Abiru on four to nine-count charges were Abdulahi Alao, Adaoha Ugo-Ngadi, Fakuade Babafemi Ebenezer, Ezekiel Olaleye Ejidele and Ontario Oil and Gas Nigeria Limited. They were all however released on bail after meeting their bail conditions.

Also arraigned before Justice Onigbanjo in separate cases and were later released after meeting their bail conditions are Mahmud Tukur, son of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur; Ochonogor Alex; Abdullahi Alao, son of a prominent businessman, Alhaji Abdulazeez Arikesola-Alao; and Eterna Oil and Gas Plc in the first case.

Also, Nasaman Oil Services; Mamman Nasir Ali, son of former PDP National Chairman, Dr. Ahmadu Ali; and Christian Taylor were arraigned in the second case.

Other marketers that were arraigned included Oluwaseun Ogunbambo, Habila Theck and Fargo Energy Limited.

Meanwhile as the EFCC steps up efforts to prosecute marketers suspected to have defrauded the fuel subsidy scheme, the Presidential Committee on Verification and Reconciliation of Fuel Subsidy Payments headed by the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Access Bank Plc, Mr. Aigboje Aig Imoukhede, has appointed the audit firm, Ernst & Young, to assist it to verify the shore tank certificates submitted by oil marketers.

According to Ministry of Finance sources, Ernst & Young will assist the committee verify and reconcile several of the outstanding claims being made by oil marketers.

The sources explained that although payments are being made to marketers with no issues against their names, those with discrepancies and those that have been indicted by the committee would have to have their documents verified by the auditor before payments can be made.

Among the oil marketers that the ministry listed as having received payments are: Integrated Oil and Gas Limited; Masters Energy Oil and Gas Limited; Mobil Oil Nigeria Plc; MRS Oil and Gas Limited; NIPCO Plc; Oando Plc; and Total Nigeria Plc.

They are among the 24 companies that were paid a total of N78.9 billion as their 2012 subsidy claims.

Capital Oil and Gas Limited; Ceoti Limited; Eterna Oil and Gas Plc; Forte Oil Plc; Heyden Petroleum Limited; Integrated Oil and Gas Limited; MRS Oil and Gas Company Limited; MRS Oil Nigeria Plc; and Pinnacle Contractors Limited are among the 79 companies that were paid arrears of 2011 subsidy claims in 2012.

One of the major infractions that was uncovered by the Imoukhede-led committee was subsidy payments made by the Federal Government without the signature of external auditors and independent inspectors of shore tank certificates.

The guidelines for the Petroleum Support Fund (PSF) provides that the volume of products for which subsidy is paid should be based on duly signed shore tank certificates.

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