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Senate Investigates Alleged $784.2m Scam In Oil Coy

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Senate yesterday directed its Committees on Public Accounts and Gas to clinically probe into the activities of the Brass LNG and the complicity therein as well as the alleged financial fraud to the tune of  $784, 265, 947.54 in the company.

The resolution followed a motion entitled, “Monumental Corruption at the NNPC” moved by Senator Dino Melaye (APC, Kogi West).

Senate asked the committees to report back within four weeks.

Melaye had told the Senate that the Brass LNG was incorporated by the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, on December 9, 2003 and that it is limited by shares of $1million.

He listed the shareholders of the company as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) represented by Mr. Funsho Kupolokun with $490, 000 shares, and the Philip Brass Ltd whose address is in Cayman Island, British West Indies represented by Mr. R.L. Smith with a share capital of $170, 000.

Others mentioned by the senator are Eni International B.V with address in Amsterdam, Netherlands, represented by Mr. A. Forzoli, with shares of $170, 000, while the fourth shareholder, Chevron Texaco Brass LNG Ltd with address in Bemuda, represented by Mr. J.R. Pryor, with shares of $170, 000.

Melaye said the Senate observed, from the CAC records, that the names of directors of the company were Gaius Jackson Obaseki and Yakubu Andrew, both former group managing directors, GMD of NNPC; Ibogomo Gbeyansa, Dawa Joseph, Ige David, all staffers of NNPC; and one Mr. Buba Mohammad.

The lawmaker said he observed from the memorandum of understanding that the Brass LNG  was supposed to be a joint venture company with the NNPC having the controlling shares and their account domiciled with the CBN.

He, however, expressed surprise that “the account of this company is with Keystone Bank opened on 1st August, 2012 with account number 1005825168, a USA domiciliary account with a closing balance of $137, 086, 462.54 currently, while the sum of $648, 179, 487 was recordedww as the account’s last inflow on 9th September, 2016, and a withdrawal of $4million was effected on the 18th November, 2016 without BVN (Bank Verification Number)”.

According to Melaye, a lot of questions are begging for answers as regards the Brass LNG, including the status of investment and principal objectives of the company; the signatories to the account; the status of the federal government investment; the returns on investment; and was due process followed in the formation and appropriation of shares in the company?

He, therefore, emphasised “an urgent need to define the position of the company vis-a-vis its operation, management and mandate in order to halt this seeming corruption”.

While amending the only prayer of the motion, Senator James Manager (PDP, Delta South) said the Committee on Gas should be made to assist the Committee on Public Affairs in the probe while Senator Joshua Lidani (PDP, Gombe South) seconded the amendment after which it was approved by the senators at plenary through voice votes.

In his remarks, the Senate president, Dr Bukola Saraki directed it to the Committees on Public Accounts, and Gas for thorough investigation, with a mandate to report back within four weeks.

Reps Call For Establishment Of TSA Agency By FG

By CHIMA AKWAJA, Lagos

The chairman of the House of Reps Ad-hoc Committee on the Treasury Single Account (TSA), Abubakar Danburam Nuhu, has called on the federal government to ensure the establishment of an agency for the TSA to coordinate its implementation and monitoring.

Nuhu made this call yesterday as a guest on Channels Television Business Morning Show, where he was joined by an economic analyst from Proshare Nigeria, Babalola Tope, to discuss some of the unfinished businesses surrounding the TSA policy.

He described the TSA as one of the greatest achievements of the presidency, but that it lacks a coordinated office in charge of its implementation and monitoring.

“Issues are being raised by so many people and they do not have answers to them. Who should be responsible for implementation and monitoring?” he asked, adding that there is the need to establish a TSA agency to be headed by a director.

Nuhu said although TSA had been of great benefit to the government, by curtailing corruption, blocking leakages and cutting off arbitrary charges previously collected by commercial banks, “the unfortunate thing with the TSA is that there are so many issues that are lingering and affecting the smooth implementation of the account.

“My committee has been doing a lot of work in terms of trying to investigate the TSA for quite some time now, but the challenges that are there need to be resolved,” he said.

Stating some of the challenges, he said: “For the last two years, the TSA has not been audited and when we called the Auditor General of the Federation (AuGF), it seems that he has not been part of the TSA implementation. He had to confess to us that there hasn’t been any audit in the last two years

“Also, there has been no reconciliation between the office of the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).”  Nuhu also revealed that the foreign currency component of the TSA was not yet activated for unknown reasons.

“Therefore no one knows exactly how federal government funds collected in Diaspora are administered,” he said.

“This means all accounts which are foreign denominated are not yet part of the TSA. They are still sitting in banks, which are probably out of the country or even in Nigeria.”

LEADERSHIP recalls that in March 2017, finance minister, Kemi Adeosun had revealed that the TSA policy had generated over N7 trillion. It was also revealed that over 20,000 commercial bank accounts where government revenue were previously stashed had been closed, saving the government about N4.7 billion monthly in bank charges.

 



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