Thursday, April 17, 2014

Ifeanyi Uba of Capital Oil, others, fraudulently cornered billions of petrol funds- police report

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The police said even the banker’s of Capital Oil may be complicit in the fraud.

Ifeanyi Uba, the controversial owner of Capital Oil and Gas, now regarded as the largest beneficiary of the multi-billion fuel subsidy scam, led a small band of company staff to rip the nation of several billions of naira through falsification and forgery, a police report into the scheme says.

The Special Fraud Unit-authored report, obtained by PREMIUM TIMES, affirms in part, earlier accusations of large scale fraud brought against Capital Oil and its management by the Presidential Committee on Verification and Reconciliation of Fuel Subsidy Payments.

But the report also provides new details about a scheme that blossomed for years, involving several oil importing companies that made similar receipts, while draining the nation of hundreds of billions naira in 2011.

The presidential panel identified 25 companies that allegedly, through multiple fraudulent ploys, received payments for fuel products they never delivered.

But the panel’s composition- with Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, Managing Director of Access Bank, the scheme’s major financier, as chairman- drew criticisms with many citing a potential conflict of interest in the committee’s work.

The panel listed Capital Oil and Gas as the number one amongst the fraudulent firms, sparking months of wide-ranging controversies between Mr. Uba and the committee.

Mr. Uba has accused Mr. Aig-Imoukhuede of bias, claiming Capital Oil was “witch-hunted” over a failed business pact it undertook with Mr. Aig-Imoukhuede.

The case remains in court, and at Mr. Uba’s behest, the House of Representatives Petitions committee is also reviewing the allegations.

The police report

The 23-page report by the Police Special Fraud Unit, dated November 5, 2012, said Capital oil received N43.291 billion for a supposed importation of 538.74 million liters of fuel, through fabrication and forgery of documents.

Vital import and clearance documents including Import duty certifications, Bill of Lading, Letters of Credit/form Ms and others were faked with the connivance of officials of the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA, Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Administration, NIMASA, bank officials and other port clearing agents, police said.

The PPPRA was singled out for scathing criticisms.

The report said besides implementing terribly lax regulations, officials of PPRA, whose board is chaired by Ahmadu Ali, the former chairman of the ruling People’s Democratic Party, PDP, colluded to forge papers to clear Capital Oil.

An earlier investigation by the House of Representatives into the subsidy fraud recommended Mr. Ali’s removal and prosecution. Mr. Ali has retained his post despite the indictments being passed to the executive.

The key actors in the Capital Oil scheme were Mr. Ubah; the company’s Executive Director for Operations, Orji Joseph; the General Manager Operations, Chibuzor Ogbuokiri; the Depot Manager, Godfrey Okorie; and the Head of Training, Nsikan Usoro.

The police report said all the accused persons and officials from all the named government agencies were questioned.

Those interrogated were asked questions related to sourcing of documents, canal channel depths/width and storage capacity of their tank farms, retail outlets invoices and trucking activities from the tank farms.

The SFU however said investigations were continuing, and efforts were being invested to establish criminal liabilities against the officials of Capital Oil and Gas Limited, and others who conspired in fabricating documents.

“We have requested certified copies of all letters of credit, bills of lading covering PMS cargoes brought by Capital Oil and Gas,” the report said. “All these documents are needed to consolidate our proof of evidence. Investigation is ongoing to unravel all criminal infractions in the transactions, the report emphasized.”

The documents will enable case of conspiracy to commit felony, money laundering, forgery, stealing, obtaining by false pretence and economic sabotage to be filed against Capital Oil and Gas, Mr. Uba and the rest, the police said.

The Access bank connection

The report also indicted the bankers of Capital oil, saying they were complicit in the deals.

“These cloudy transactions of Capital Oil and Gas Limited was anchored on credit facilities provided by the bankers, which make the banks party to the transactions as original copies of the bills of lading were kept by banks as consignees of the cargoes, also proceeds of this fraudulent act were domiciled in banks,” the reports adds.

The report confirms earlier PREMIUM TIMES stories of how bank officials allowed their banks to be used to illegally receive billions of subsidy funds.

Mr. Aig-Imoukhuede’s ACCESS Bank financed a large chunk of the subsidy imports including those of Capital oil.

With more than a month since the completion of the document, it is not clear to what extent the police final investigation has reached.

 

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