Senate Probes Banks over $63b Oil Fraud
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Some banks are in trouble for allegedly conspiring with various international oil companies (IOCs) to swindle the Nigerian government.
Already, the Senate has launched an investigation into this issue and has called on parties involved to appear before it to explain their roles in the alleged mess.
It was alleged that more than $62.9 billion was moved out of the country under suspicious circumstances between August 2009 and December 2014.
The “Investigation of the pre-shipment inspection of export activities in Nigeria” is being conducted by the Senate joint committee on Finance, Trade and Investment, Gas, Petroleum Upstream, Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions, Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, and Customs and Excise.
A document obtained showed the banks were asked to submit copies of certified Nigeria Export Proceed (NXP) issued/or processed by them in respect of all crude oil and gas exported by Nigeria Agip Company Ltd, Chevron Nigeria Limited, Shell Petroleum Dev. Co. Nig. Ltd and their affiliates between April 1996 and December 2016.
The banks are to submit all domiciliary accounts opened and /or closed within the period specified for crude oil and gas exported.
According to The Nation, two banks; Citibank and Standard Chartered Bank, appeared at the investigative joint committee on Thursday. Other banks said to be associated with the export of oil and gas will also appear.
A member of the committee, Mr Yusuf Yusuf, queried why funds brought into the country as oil export proceeds were wholly withdrawn a day after such proceeds were brought.
He said the probe became necessary because the banks should have ensured petroleum products exporters did the right thing by obeying the guidelines and laws of the country.
“It is worrisome that money comes in today, tomorrow the same amount goes out of the country. The practice runs through the statement of account submitted by the banks. The oil companies bring in $20 billion today and tomorrow $20 billion is taken out from the account,” the lawmaker expressed surprise.
“The banks are colluding with multinational oil companies to defraud the country. The government relies on the banks; the banks are now colluding with the multi-national oil companies,” he alleged.
He noted that it was obvious the country was not getting the correct export proceeds from oil and gas exports.
The lawmaker, who insisted that banks had the responsibility to abide by the law, said it was worrisome no indications were made about who paid for oil exports.
He noted that the committee was interested in why same company exports and pays for products without an indication of who actually buys the products and the corresponding bank.