Oil company chief declared wanted over $26m FOREX fraud
Posted by News Express | 24 March 2017 | 6,036 times
•IGP Ibrahim Idris.
The House of Representatives Ad Hoc Committee on the Review of Petroleum Products Pricing on Thursday directed Ibrahim Idris, the Inspector General of Police, and Muhammed Babandede, the Comptroller General of Immigration, to immediately determine the whereabouts of one Mr. Andrew Alagu, Managing Director, HAR Petroleum Resources Ltd.
Mr Alagu was declared wanted by the committee for alleged fraudulent sourcing and receipt of foreign exchange to the tune of $26 million from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) with a view to importing premium motor spirit (PMS) into the country under the DSDP programme of the Federal Government.
Raphael Nnanna Igbokwe (PDP, Imo), chairman of the committee, had given the ruling following denial by the company via a letter to the committee the company did not engage in product importation at any time and therefore couldn’t have sourced for and accessed FOREX from the CBN.
HAR representative at the hearing, Jefferson Ogunma, who said his boss, Andrew Alagu, was away on official assignment outside the country, told the committee that his company only handled logistical activities on behalf of Total Nigeria Plc.
This was however disputed by Igbokwe who said, “We have it on good authority that in 2014, your company applied and got over $11 million, and in 2015, it got another FOREX over $14 million from Zenith Bank for the importation of petroleum products into this country, and you now sit here and deny ever engaging in product importation or any of such transaction with the NNPC retail outfits?
“Where did the $26 million you took in FOREX from the bank according to CBN records go to?” Igbokwe queried.
The committee therefore ordered that the Inspector General of Police and the Comptroller General of Immigration immediately determine the whereabouts of the company’s MD and have him produced on March 27th unfailingly for questioning.
The National Assembly Sergeant-at-Arms and police attaches were subsequently asked to take the representative’s his statement regarding the whereabouts of his boss, his own identity as well as what he knows about the $26 million taken by his company according to CBN records.
Also asked to give a full statement to the police and Sergeant at-arms security for their record at the hearing was Gregory Enahoro, the managing director of Nice Bridge Petroleum limited, whose company received $9.6 million in FOREX through its Keystone and Zenith Bank accounts.
The company as well as CEOs of Keystone and Zenith banks were also summoned to explain why they jointly gave the sum to the company and as well as evidence of utilisation, saying that the FOREX sourced and received by the company has an imprint of fraud that requires further investigation.
Mr. Enahoro, who earlier told the panel that his company carried out logistical activities for Total Plc, added that, Nice Bridge using Total platforms sourced for its products from retail outlets outside Nigeria and therefore was not in any transaction with the PPPRA which would have facilitated forex for it.
The committee chair asked to see a copy of operating licence allowing them to source products outside official channel when they are not a major or independent marketer.
He was also asked if his company has the procedural approval given to Total by the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) was also given to him, he said no.
The panel ruled that the company doesn’t have the required approval authority to venture into petroleum products, adding that the company produces all required permits given to it to operate as a product importer, and that the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) provides certified true copy of certificate of incorporation for the company showing what it set out to do.
On Total Plc, the panel also declared that the $134.9 million worth of crude oil lifted is subject of further investigation as documents provided by the company were at variance with available records before the committee.
Luis Mbanefo, Total chief negotiator, had told the committee that his company did not breach any of the agreements entered into with NNPC.
This position was also corroborated by the managing Director of Total Nigeria, Mr. Jerome Delorue, saying: “On crude lifting by coys in exchange for petrol, taking on Total plc which presented documents that the committee disputed saying that they do not represent the quantity of crude lifted by Total according to records.”
Nnanna said that the arrangement which started in February but Total started lifting crude from January which was not reflected in the documents submitted.