Thursday, October 25, 2012

Nuhu Ribadu uncovers large scale oil fraud

A leaked report of the Ribadu-led petroleum revenues task force says Nigeria lost about N4.64 trillion over the last decade from cut-price deals struck between multinational oil companies and government officials.

Former EFCC chairman Nuhu Ribadu headed the Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force, set up by Petroleum Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke in January to retrieve outstanding oil revenues payable to the Federal Government.

Reuters news agency reported yesterday that the committee produced a 146-page report covering the period 2002 to the present, providing new details on long history of corruption in the oil sector.

Alison-Madueke told Reuters on Tuesday she had received the report last month but that it was a draft and the government was still supposed to give input. The one seen by Reuters was labelled "Final Report."

The report concluded that oil majors Shell, Total and Eni made bumper profits from cut-price gas, while petroleum ministers handed out licences at their own discretion. This, while not illegal, did not follow best practice of using open bids. Hundreds of millions of dollars in signature bonuses on those deals were also missing, it said.

It said also the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) made N86.6 billion over the 10-year period by using overly generous exchange rates in its declarations to the government. There was no sign of the money.

"We have not seen this report and are, therefore, unable to comment on the content, but we will study it if and when it is published," a Shell spokesman told Reuters.

Shell spokesman Precious Okolobo did not answer calls by a Daily Trust reporter yesterday and did not reply to text messages.

Spokesman for Total, Charles Eberionwu, told Daily Trust that he would not comment on a report that is not yet published or approved by government.

For his part, ENI spokesman Tajuddeen Adigun said he did not understand what

the report is talking about and he needed to have details before he could make any comments.

When Daily Trust contacted NNPC spokesman Fidel I. Pepple, he said the petroleum minister has already addressed the issues in the report and therefore he had nothing to add.

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