This Day (Lagos)

Nigeria: Police Recover N6.5 Billion From Oil Subsidy, Bank Fraud

As part of its continuous quest to curb fraud, the Commissioner of Police Special Fraud Unit (SFU), Tunde Ogunsakin, has said the unit succeeded in recovering the sum of N6.5 billion from suspected fraudsters last year.

Ogunsakin, who made this disclosure Monday at the unit's headquarters in Ikoyi, Lagos, during an interactive session with journalists, said 13 exotic cars were also recovered from different parts of the country.

He also said the money recovered were from a total of 1,142 cases including fuel subsidy, bank frauds and other fraud-related incidents, which were reported to the unit from January to December 2013.

"We also recovered the sum of $931,069, and out of the 1,142 cases, we have about 600 cases under going prosecution. The unit recorded four convictions and five judgments in all," the commissioner said.

He lamented that although the judiciary made it difficult for fraud and corruption cases to be prosecuted, a substantial part of the recovered money was from the fuel subsidy fraud cases.

Ogunsakin said the unit tackled different subsidy fraud cases based on referral from the Presidential Committee on Verification and Reconciliation of Fuel Subsidy Payment.

He said the different cases of criminal diversion of subsidy funds against about 11 major oil marketers were referred to the unit by the federal government for investigation and subsequent prosecution in court of law.

Armed with the petition, the police commissioner said detectives from the unit swung into action and investigated regulatory agencies in the maritime sector such as NPA, DPR, Navy, NIMASA, Customs, CBN, commercial banks, shipping companies and depot operators.

He noted that from the findings and investigations conducted so far, substantial evidence of criminal infractions was adduced against some of the oil marketers. "A good number of those indicted have been arraigned in the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, for prosecution while investigation on other cases is still ongoing.

"Our challenge in this guise is that most cases related to subsidy are crimes committed outside the shores of Nigeria, hence, it requires international contact and investigation to conclude most of the case," he said.

However, Ogunsakin said worthy of mentioning was the fraud allegedly carried out by management of companies like Stonebridge Oil Limited, Eurafric Oil and Coastal Services Limited, Geacan Energy Limited, Capital Oil and Gas Industry Limited and Gulf bank which accounted of N15 billion.

"Stonebridge Oil Limited received the sum of N1, 784,715,258.14 as subsidy under the guise that he discharged 20,187,353.00 litres of petrol on July 29, 2011, which it claimed to have imported into the country via vessel MT Brave Ex, MT Starling Ex and MT Pyxis Delta.

"Further investigation by the unit revealed that vessel Pyxis Delta did not carry petrol on the date claimed and never discharged any product into MT Brave through MT starling as claimed by the marketer. "Also, investigations revealed that MT Brave was in Port Harcourt waters during the period and was never anywhere near offshore Cotonou where the marketer alleged that the ship to ship transfer took place," he disclosed.

On its part, Ogunshakin said Eurafric Oil and Coastal Service Limited received the sum of N1, 306,170,995.88 as subsidy money from the federal government under the guise that it discharged 17,836,556 litres of petrol on December 21, 2011, which it claimed to have imported via vessel MT Dani Ex, MT Hellenic Blue.

The SFU boss revealed that investigations also conducted by the unit revealed that MT Dani was nowhere near offshore Lome and did not have any ship to ship transfer from MT Hellenic Blue on the alleged date.

Ogunshakin said most intriguing in all the cases investigated so far is that of the defunct Gulf bank where about N15 billion was fraudulently diverted by some senior management staff of the bank which represents about two percent.

He said: "Our experience on bank fraud cases reveals the insider's factor in the crime, and this is the most delicate and slippery part of investigation of bank frauds. Huge funds are lost to bank fraud.

"80 per cent of which are conceived and perpetrated by top executives of the banks in collaboration with outsiders. In order to conceal the frauds, top executives deliberately manipulate records to deceive inspectors, internal and external supervisors and investigators."

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