Saturday, 18 August 2012

FG indicts Conoil, MRS, Capital Oil, 18 others

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The Federal Government has indicted Conoil Plc, MRS Oil and Gas Ltd., Capital Oil and Gas Industry Ltd., and 18 other firms in the fuel subsidy imbroglio.
It said that these companies were being investigated based on the evidence that they might have engaged in fraudulent activities under the fuel subsidy regime.
The Ministry of Finance, in a statement on Friday, gave the names of the other companies as Aluminnur Resources Ltd., Brilla Energy Ltd., Caades Oil and Gas Ltd., Downstream Energy Source Ltd., Eterna Plc and
Eurafric Oil and Gas Ltd.
Others are Lumen Skies Ltd., Majope Investment Ltd., Matrix Energy Ltd., Menon Oil and Gas Ltd., MOB International Services, Nasaman Oil Services Ltd., Natacel Petroleum Ltd., Ocean Energy Trading and Services, Pinnacle Contractors Ltd., Sifax Oil and Gas Company, Tonique Oil Services Ltd. and Top Oil and Gas Development Company Ltd.
According to the statement, a report by the Presidential Committee on Fuel Subsidy Payments led by Aig Aig-Imoukhuede, had recommended that the firms refund various amounts to the national treasury.
The statement said, “There is a second group of companies with infractions which are relatively minor. They are in discussion with the government for a quick resolution of their issues. The government is prepared to settle their claims under the following circumstances.
“For oil marketers under investigation for possible refunds to the government, their 2012 outstanding claims will be netted out against their expected refunds to the government and those with a positive net balance, i.e. outstanding claims greater than expected refunds, will be processed and paid.
“For marketers with a negative balance with the government, i.e they owe the government more in refunds than the government owes them, the Aig-Imoukhuede committee will accelerate the review of their documents after the Sallah break so that their claims can be processed and settled, if cleared, without further delay.
“It is clear that those behind the strikes are marketers being investigated for possible fraud. These elements have now resorted to hiding behind the unions to unnecessarily antagonise the government and create hardship for Nigerians.
“We want to make it clear that the government will fully investigate their activities and if found guilty, bring them to book and recover all public funds fraudulently obtained in the guise of fuel subsidy claims.
“No degree of blackmail will stop the government from doing its work. The government will, therefore, pursue justice and ensure that those who are found guilty are appropriately sanctioned.”
The Federal Government had already spent N493.67bn on fuel subsidy claims this year.
Out of the amount, N451bn was used to settle the 2011 arrears. Also, a total of N888bn was earmarked for subsidy payments in the 2012 budget.
The FG had earlier stated on Tuesday that indicted oil marketers would not be paid subsidy claims, while dismissing the threat of strike by the marketers.
The current scarcity of petroleum products in some parts of the country, particularly the Federal Capital Territory, has been blamed on the refusal of the marketers to lift products due to the decision of the FG to withhold further subsidy payments.
The government said in a statement on Tuesday by the Senior Special Assistant to the Minister of Finance, Mr. Paul Nwabuikwu, that it had been discharging its responsibilities to marketers whose claims had been verified.
Nwabuikwu said, “The claim by some marketers that they have embarked on strike because the FG has failed to pay them for fuel imports is not accurate. The true position is that the FG has been meeting its obligations to oil marketers in respect of all legitimate claims.
“For instance, between April and May 2012, batches D/12 and E/12 involving 14 oil marketers with a claim of N17bn were fully settled through the issuance of Sovereign Debt Notes and other relevant documentation.
“In addition, since the directive by the minister to the Debt Management Office to continue payments of all verified claims, N25.6bn worth of claims has been fully settled with the issuance of Sovereign Debt Notes. In all, between April and August this year, in respect of 2012 PMS claims, Sovereign Debt Notes amounting to N42.666bn have been issued to 31 oil marketers.”
He, however, said claims by marketers who had been recommended for further investigation by the Aig-Imoukhuede committee had not been paid.
Payments or sanctions to this category of marketers, according to the statement, will be determined by the outcome of investigations.
Nwabuikwu said in the statement, “Against this background, it is clear that the strike was instigated mainly by marketers who were indicted by the Aig-Imoukhuede committee, which investigated fuel subsidy payments.
“Their obvious intention is to blackmail the FG in order to escape sanctions for the crimes they have committed. Nigerians should not be deceived by their antics. Such tactics will not succeed because the FG is determined to ensure that persons and organisations that did wrong things do not get away with the wrong actions and behaviour.”
He gave an assurance that the payment of marketers whose claims had been verified would continue in a consistent and structured way that would protect the best interests of the country.
“All marketers who have genuine issues regarding their claims are encouraged to come forward for discussions or clarifications,” he said. punch

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