The House of Representatives has demanded the details and explanations of the excess of $1.2bn paid into a controversial ‘Central Bank of Nigeria Petroleum Profit Tax’ account by an oil firm, Aiteo, between 2011 and 2014.
The money was paid into account number 000000400216647.
Investigations showed that Aiteo lifted 10.2 million barrels of crude oil in 2011 and another 10.4 million barrels in 2012.
In 2013, the firm lifted 11.4 million barrels and another 11.5 million barrels in 2014 under the controversial crude-swap programme.
These figures were corroborated by the submissions made to an ad hoc committee of the House by the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.
The committee is investigating the alleged export of $17bn undeclared crude and gas resources from the country between 2011 and 2014.
However, when summoned by the committee, which was chaired by a member of the All Progressives Congress from Adamawa State, Abdulrazak Namdas, Aiteo denied being involved in any crude oil transactions in Nigeria between 2011 and 2014.
Findings indicated that the lawmakers found as contradictory, the payment of the $1.2bn with the firm claiming not to have done any crude oil business in Nigeria during the period.
A committee source said that the quoted CBN account was supposed to be a petroleum profit tax account, but the lawmakers wondered why huge sums were being paid into it if the firm denied doing any transactions.
In addition, a report by the Federal Inland Revenue Service for tax covering the period reportedly did not capture the payments by Aiteo and several other firms listed by the House committee.
For example, documents showed that Aiteo made eight of such payments in 2014 alone, totalling $643m.
In a set of queries the committee sent to Aiteo, it wrote, “The committee wants to know if these payments relate to the crude supplied to you under the crude petroleum product swap programme or not.
“If they relate to swap supplies, how were you able to procure the products, having paid the proceeds into an account managed by the Federal Government, not your company’s account?
“In your response to the committee’s request, you denied being involved in crude deals in Nigeria during the period under investigation. “Based on the foregoing expose, do you still stand by your claims?
“If you were not involved in oil deals in Nigeria, could you have possibly paid petroleum profit tax in those years?”
The panel further noted in the queries that Aiteo paid another $301m into the account in 2012 and another $106m in February, 2013.
In the same 2013, the firm paid another $104.8m in November.
“Can you tell the committee the relationship between this payment and PPT?
The firm was directed to respond to the queries within one week.
In a separate letter to the Executive Chairman of FIRS, Dr Babatunde Fowler, the committee demanded evidence of tax returns filed by 11 other international oil companies, besides Aiteo, between 2011 and 2014.
The list included Star Deep Water Petroleum Limited, China National Offshore Oil Company Limited, Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Limited, ESSO Exploration and Production Nigeria Limited, Total Upstream Nigeria Limited, South Atlantic Petroleum Resources Limited, Texaco Nigeria Outer Shelf Limited, Shell Western Supply and Trading Company, and Sterling Energy Exploration and Production Nigeria Limited.
On its part, Ontario Oil and Gas Limited, wrote the committee to say that it would not respond to any enquiries on the alleged theft of $17bn crude on the grounds that the company, was ‘moribund and comatose.’
Making reference to a judgment delivered on January 13 and 26, 2017 by Justice L.A. Okunnu of the Lagos State High Court, Ontario’s lawyers, Jackson Etti and Yusuf Kadiri, replied the panel, “The company and its Managing Director and Chairman, were all convicted and sentenced to very severe punishment, respectively.
“Consequently, the MD of the company is currently in the custody of the Nigerian Prisons Service at the Kirikiri Maximum Security Prisons in Lagos.
“The chairman has been prevented from departing the United Kingdom by the British authorities because of some ongoing judicial proceedings in the UK…”