The House of Representatives at the weekend unravelled over $120.5 million special intervention forex alleged diverted by four oil marketers between 2015 and 2017.
Worried by the level of sharp practices in the implementation of the special intervention foreign exchange, the House has mandated Federal Ministry of Finance to halt the payment of foreign exchange differentials, subsidy claims to the oil marketers pending the conclusion of the investigation into the utilisation of the fund.
According to the documents obtained from Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the indicted oil marketers were among the beneficiaries of the special intervention foreign exchange for the importation of premium motor spirit (PMS) in May 2017.
The apex bank released the forex for the payment of outstanding matured Letter of Credits (LCs) requests made through Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
Nnanna Igbokwe, chairman, Adhoc Committee investigating the review of pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) disclosed this while cross-examining representatives of the oil marketers who were invited by the Committee.
Worried by the series of infractions observed in the series of documents submitted by the oil companies, CBN, Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Nigerian Maritime and Safety Administration (NIMASA) and Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), about four representatives of the oil marketers were handed over for the Nigeria Police attache to conduct thorough criminal investigations into the alleged illicit transactions.
Some of the arrested oil marketers are representatives of Aiteo, Tiger Shipping Line Limited which allegedly diverted 15,000MT of PMS with MT high prosperity, as well as Bulk and Strategic Reserve Limited and BOVAS Oil and Gas company Limited.
Igbokwe who read the documents forwarded by the CBN Governor to the stakeholders, alleged that Shore Link assessed $18.705 million in 2016 for importation of PMS under the special intervention foreign exchange but could not substantiate how it was utilised.
Records available to the Adhoc Committee further revealed that Bulk Strategic Oil and Gas company assessed $19.8 million in January 2015 and additional sum of $2.941 million in June 2016 but diverted the fund for other purposes other than importation of PMS.
On its part, Aiteo allegedly diverted the sum of $18.7 million forex obtained under the special intervention foreign exchange according to the record submitted by the apex bank to the Ad-hoc Committee.
The committee however declined to ordered the arrest of representative of Bovas and company Limited over alleged diversion of $37 million Forex obtained for importation of PMS.
“By your record and presentation, showed the total forex you collected under the direct import and special intervention. But by CBN record, it showed that you received over $37 million different from personal forex as at June 2016. On this note, the Managing Director of Bovas and company limited is hereby summoned over the receipt of $37 million for importation of PMS which cannot be accounted for,” Igbokwe ruled.
According to him, all the Managing Directors of the indicted companies were directed to appear before the Adhoc Committee on the 27th March 2017 with relevant documents showing the level of their indebtedness to PPMC and other relevant agencies.
They were also requested to present evidence of forex applications to NNPC, import permits, electronic payments made through REMITA among others, just as the Committee dismissed copies of the PPMC receipts presented by various oil marketers which the Committee alleged can be obtained from anywhere including Oluwole in Lagos.
Speaking earlier, Temitope Samson, Bovas Executive Director disclosed that Federal Government is owing the company N9 billion adding that
Samson who informed the committee that the company “did not access forex at all. All the ones gotten from CBN were for consumated transactions. We are not on credit sale and through-put,” told the lawmakers after which the committee accused him of lying under oath, hence directed that he should help the Police with relevant information about who assessed the forex on behalf of the company.
In his closing remarks, Igbokwe vowed that the House stop at nothing to expose all those involved in the illegal diversion of forex no matter how highly placed they are in the Nigerian society, adding that most of the oil marketers sell PMS above the approved pump price.
The adhoc committee also expressed concern over the level of impunity by an oil marketer which declared profit of N124 billion while owing Federal Government the sum of N2.1 billion, which he noted is enough to build 20 cottage hospitals.
To this end, he summoned officials of Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF) over the variance between the forex differentials paid to different oil marketers on the same day. The investigative hearing is expected to continue on the 27th March 2017.