The House of Representatives’ Committees on Petroleum Upstream and Downstream), and Justice are to investigate the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) for allegedly conniving with a Swiss trading firm to swindle the country of $6.8billion.
The committees would question the corporation for selling the country’s crude oil below the market value through what is termed “Letter Box Companies.”
The decision of the lawmakers followed the prayers and the adoption of a motion by Abiodun Abudu-Balogun (APC, Ogun), that the fraud was reported by a Swiss Non-Governmental advocacy organisation, the Berne Declaration.
He said the report by the organisation declared the deal as the “greatest fraud Africa has ever known” that is draining Nigeria of billions of dollars in revenue.
He said: “The report by Berne Declaration, tiled: ‘Swiss Traders Opaque Deals in Nigeria,’ is so disturbing with details of the schemes employed by the NNPC and foreign oil companies to dupe the country of over $6.8billion
“A major partner of NNPC, Vitol and Transfigura Commodity Trading Firms was mentioned in the deals where large volume of our crude oil was sold below the market price, “ he said, stressing that it should be a source of concern that exclusive and untransparent partnerships of Vitol and Transfigura Commodity Trading Firms with the NNPC, gave them over 36 per cent of the market share, “with NNPC selling its crude at a discount.”
Balogun sought justification behind Nigeria being the only major oil producing nation that sells 100 per cent of its crude to private traders, rather than market it herself and benefit from the resulting added value with the greatest number of beneficiaries of export allocations.
He said another cause for worry is the sharp practices and deals in the NNPC crude oil allocations to local refineries that are not utilised, but sold fraudulently at knock- down prices to Geneva-based companies through Letter box companies by swap arrangement.
“What should also bother Nigerians is the numerous damaging allegations contained in the report against the NNPC and its subsidiaries accused of not publishing detailed financial reports since 2005,” he added..
The presiding officer, Deputy Speaker Emeka Ihedioha referred the motion to the three House committees after it was unanimously supported when put to voice vote.
The committees are expected to put in their report in four weeks.