Wednesday, July 25, 2012

EFCC to prosecute 23 oil marketers for subsidy fraud

In keeping with the Federal Government’s promise to prosecute those that were alleged to have abused the fuel subsidy scheme, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) will finally set the stage for the arraignment of oil-marketing firms and their directors at the Lagos High Court today.

The EFCC Tuesday  named the suspects to include seven oil companies and 12 individuals who have been indicted during investigations into the management of the fuel subsidy scheme and would be arraigned before judges of the Lagos State judiciary.
Some of the suspects are scions of chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and party supporters.

EFCC’s disclosure confirmed THISDAY exclusive story yesterday on the plan to arraign the suspects the same day.
However, THISDAY checks revealed that the suspects could not be arraigned as planned due to logistic problems on the part of the prosecution that are being addressed preparatory to the arraignment of some of them in Lagos today.

The suspects, comprising seven oil companies and 12 individuals, are: Nasaman Oil Services; Eterna Oil and Gas Plc; Ontario Oil and Gas Plc; Nadabo Energy Limited; Pacific Silver Line Limited, Axenergy Limited and Fago Petroleum and Gas Limited.

The 12 individuals involved in the scam are: Mamman Nasir Ali, Christian Taylor, Mahmud Tukur, Ochonogor Alex, Walter Wagbatsoma, Adaoha Ugo-Ngadi, Fakuade Babafemi Ebenezer, Ezekiel Olaleye Ejidele, Abubakar Ali Peters, Jude Agube Abalaka, Abdullahi Alao and Oluwaseun Ogunbanbo.

Mamman Nasir Ali, who runs Nasaman Oil Services, is the son of former PDP National Chairman, Col. Ahmadu Ali (rtd), who was also the chairman of the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulating Agency (PPPRA) board.

Mahmud Tukur, who runs Eterna Oil and Gas Plc, is the son of the current PDP National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, while Abdullahi Alao of Axenergy Limited is the son of popular Ibadan-based tycoon, Alhaji Abdulazeez Arisekola-Alao.

Ugo-Ngadi, on her part, is the Managing Director of Ontario Oil and Gas Plc, where its founder, Wagbatsoma, is the executive vice-chairman. 

But whilst the individuals were identified as directors of the oil-marketing firms, Ejidele is a director of the accounting firm, Akintola Williams Deloitte, while Ebenezer is a member of staff of PPPRA.
Also, some of the suspects such as Alao may be tried twice for allegedly conniving with different companies to defraud the government.

According to a statement from EFCC spokesman Wilson Uwujaren, Nasaman Oil Services; Ali and Taylor are to face charges bordering on obtaining N4,460,130,797.94 from the Federal Government under false pretences.

The sum was alleged to have been fraudulently obtained as subsidy payments from the Petroleum Support Fund (PSF) for the purported importation of 30.5 million litres of petrol from SEATAC Petroleum Limited of British Virgin Islands.

Also, Alao and Axenergy Limited will be tried for allegedly obtaining by fraud N2,640,141,707.75 from the government, being payments received from the PSF for the purported importation of 33.3 million litres of petrol.

Others, including Tukur, Alex, Alao and Eterna Oil and Gas Plc, will be arraigned for fraudulently obtaining N1,899,238,946.02 from the PSF for the purported importation of 80.3 million litres of petrol.

Also, Nadabo Energy Limited, Peters, Abalaka and Pacific Silver Line Limited are to be prosecuted for allegedly obtaining N1,464,961,978.24, being payments fraudulently received from the PSF for the purported importation of 19.4 million litres of petrol.

Wagbatsoma, Ugo-Ngadi, Ebenezer, Ejidele and Ontario Oil and Gas Nigeria Limited will be arraigned for fraudulently obtaining N1,959,377,542.63 from the PSF for the purported importation of 39.2 million litres of petrol.

On their part, Fago Petroleum and Gas Limited and Ogunbanbo are to be arraigned for fraudulently obtaining N979,653,110.20 from the PSF for the purported importation of 33,627,840 litres of petrol.

As exclusively reported by THISDAY, some of the suspects will appear before Justices Habeeb Abiru and Adeniyi Onigbanjo both of the Ikeja Division of the Lagos High Court for trial.

Those to be arraigned before Onigbanjo on a nine-count charge bordering on conspiracy, obtaining money by false pretence, forgery and use of false documents are Tukur, Alex, Alao and Eterna Oil and Gas Ltd.

The company and the individuals were alleged to have on April 28, 2011, in Lagos, fraudulently obtained N676.9 million from the Federal Government purporting same to be payment accruing to Eterna Oil under the PSF.

They are also accused of falsifying claims to have purchased 33,288,388 litres of petrol from Mercury Energy Trading AS and imported to Nigeria through Ex-MT Fulmer, Ex-MT Emirates Star and Ex-MT Panther.

Those to appear before Justice Abiru are Wagbatsoma, Ugo-Ngadi, Ebenezer, Ejide and Ontario Oil and Gas Nig. Ltd. The second case before Justice Abiru also involves Alao and his Axenergy Oil.

Alao, who is also to be charged before Justice Onigbanjo will face another nine-count charge bordering on obtaining by false pretence, forgery and use of false documents before Justice Abiru.

He is accused of fraudulently obtaining N2.5 billion in December 2010 from the Federal Government as subsidy payments for supplying13,364,284 and 20,014,627 litres of petrol from Ex-MT Gavros and Ex-MT Nippon Princess. The accused persons before Justice Abiru are facing a nine-count charge for conspiracy, obtaining money under false pretence, forgery and use of false documents.

They are accused of fraudulently obtaining over N1.9 billion from the Federal Government under the PSF from July to December 2010. All the accused persons were also alleged to have forged bills of lading and other vital documents, which they allegedly used in perpetrating the fraud.

The EFCC said their alleged offences contravened Sections 1(3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act of 2006 and Sections 467 and 468 of the Criminal Code Laws of Lagos State 2003. Part of the charges preferred against Wagbatsoma and his co-accused, includes conspiracy for obtaining N1.9 billion under false pretence, contrary to Section 8, punishable under Section 107 of Advance Fee Fraud & other related offences.

They are also accused by the government of altering and forging documents contrary to Section 468 and 467 of the Criminal Code Cap. C17, Vol. 2, Laws of Lagos of State of Nigeria, 2006, respectively.
The charge read in part: “That you, Walter Wagbatsoma, Adaoha-Ugo-Ngadi, Fakuade Babafemi Ebenezer, Ezekiel Olajide Ejide and Ontario Oil and Gas Nig. Ltd. did conspire to obtain property by false pretence contrary to Section 8 punishable under Section 1 of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Related Offences on 7th July, 2010, within the jurisdiction of this court, conspired to commit an offence to wit: obtaining the sum of N340,178,111.231 from the Federal Government of Nigeria, purporting to be Petroleum Support Fund, which sum was in excess of the actual value of the product imported into Nigeria by Ontario Oil and Gas Ltd.”

They were also said to have collected N340,015,198, being “Excess of the value of the actual product (12,070,706 litres) delivered by Mt. Union Brave to Integrated Oil and Gas Ltd on your behalf as against  19,681,731 litres you falsely  claimed to have discharged”.
The suspects are among over 140 individuals and organisations involved in the ongoing investigations into the subsidy payments by the EFCC.
“More suspects will be arraigned periodically as the investigation progresses,” the EFCC said in its statement.
Meanwhile, the EFCC yesterday filed a separate suit before Justice Samuel Candide-Johnson of the Lagos High Court against Durosola Omogbenigun, Peter Mba, Integrated Resources Limited and Pinnacle Oil and Gas. It was gathered that all the four defendants are to appear in court tomorrow for arraignment.

They were alleged to have conspired to obtain money under false pretences punishable under Section 1 of the Advance Free Fraud and Other Related Offences Act, 2006. They were also alleged to have on February 4, 2011 obtained from the Federal Government N986,154,970.41 purported to be subsidy payable to Integrated Resources Limited for the importation of 19,347,753 litres of petrol which they claimed from NIMEX Petroleum Limited of Gibraltar.

They will also, among others, be charged with the intent to defraud the Federal Government, for obtaining N343,182,230.20 on or about September 15, 2011, purporting to be subsidy payable to Integrated Resources Limited for  4,115,951 litres of petrol which they claimed to have purchased from Alcamo Integrated Limited/Vitol SA Geneva and allegedly imported to Nigeria through the mother vessel MT Box and MT Althea Ex MT Sea Power as the daughter vessels.

Indicted Oil Firms
  Nasaman Oil Services
   Eterna Oil and Gas Plc
   Ontario Oil and Gas Plc
   Nadabo Energy Limited
  Pacific Silver Line Limited
   Axenergy Limited
   Fago Petroleum & Gas Ltd
   Integrated Resources Ltd
   Pinnacle Oil and Gas

Indicted Persons
   Mamman Nasir Ali
   Christian Taylor
   Mahmud Tukur
   Ochonogor Alex
   Walter Wagbatsoma
  Adaoha Ugo-Ngadi
   Fakuade B. Ebenezer
   Ezekiel Olaleye Ejidele
   Abubakar Ali Peters
   Jude Agube Abalaka
  Abdullahi Alao
   Oluwaseun Ogunbanbo
   Durosola Omogbenigun
   Peter Mba

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