The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has rearrested oil magnate, Jide Omokore, and will most likely slam money laundering charges on him today (Monday).
An official briefed on the matter said the businessman would be arraigned alongside Andrew Yakubu, a former Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, who has also been picked up.
Our sources said the duo would be charged before Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court, Abuja on a four-count charge of money laundering.
According to EFCC insiders, other defendants in the case are Victor Briggs, Abiye Memnere, David Mbanefo, Atlantic Energy Brass Development Limited and Atlantic Energy Drilling Concepts Limited.
In 2011 during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Atlantic Energy Limited, Mr Omokore’s company, alongside other companies were allegedly given multibillion dollar worth of public assets without due process.
As at the time, the company, which was barely a year old and had no history of producing a droplet of oil, was awarded controlling stakes in two lucrative oil blocks – OML 30 and 34 – for just over $50 million each.
The deal, which was signed by the immediate past minister of petroleum, Diezani Alison-Madueke, gave Atlantic Energy Limited a controlling 55 percent stake in the oil block.
Interestingly, Shell, which owned the remaining 45 per cent stake, fetched $1.3 billion for a single field after an open and competitive bidding process.
Incorporated as Atlantic Drilling Energy Concept Limited on July 19, 2010, it signed a Strategic Alliance Agreement with the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) shortly afterwards.
The NPDC is the upstream production subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
Under the agreement, Atlantic took charge of four oil blocks- OML 26 FHN, OML 30 Shoreline, OML 34 Niger-Delta Oil and OML 42 Neconde. It was to provide funds, technical services, drill and sell crude oil.
The company was also accused of lifting crude oil, but remitting only a fraction of its worth to government.
In 2012, according to NNPC insiders, Atlantic Energy paid $168m into government account, but lifted about three million barrels – valued at over $350 million.
In 2013, it also lifted about two million barrels of crude valued at about $240million, but paid only $68million.
Similarly, in 2014, Atlantic Energy paid zero cash-call, but lifted about 500,000 barrels of crude oil, valued at $54 million.
Mr. Yakubu was the GMD of the NNPC between 2012 and 2014 when Atlantic Energy lifted oil without remitting what was due to government.
The EFCC recently raided the business premises of Mr. Omokore, making away with documents and computers.
Last February, high-ranking federal officials told PREMIUM TIMES that the Nigerian government forced Mr Omokore to pay $14 million royalty on oil that his company should have paid between 2011 and 2012.
Our sources said the money was paid into the Federal Government’s account with JP Morgan Chase on January 29, after the EFCC waded into the matter of recovering taxes due to the Federal Government.
“The investigation of tax defaulters in the dollar-soaked oil industry is continuing,” a source at the EFCC said Wednesday. “Those who failed to willingly pay up stand the risk of arrest and prosecution for tax fraud.”
Operatives of the EFCC questioned Mr Omokore on January 27 in connection with the controversial multi-billion dollar crude export deals.
Last week, the federal government commenced processes that would enable it freeze local and foreign assets of Mr. Omokore, and Kola Aluko, another ally of former Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, and ex-President Goodluck Jonathan.
The government sought an order to freeze several local and international luxury properties owned by the defendants, including the Galatica Star, a $50 million “Super yatch” owned by Mr. Aluko and three private jets.
Other properties owned by the duo and their companies the government asked a federal high court in Lagos for an order to freeze include all sums of money and negotiable instruments of credit of the defendants’ domestic accounts held in 19 domestic banks. The government estimated the total sum held by the defendant to be $1.76 billion.
The government also prayed the court for an order for a freeze on sale or mortgage on the following properties in Nigeria and abroad: Houses on 755 Sarbonne Road, Los Angeles, 952 North Alphine Drive, Los Angeles, 815 Cima Del Mondo, Los Angeles, 1049 Fifth Avenue, New York, 1948 and 1952 Tollis Avenue, Santa Barbara, 157 West 57thStreet, New York, and 4100 Le Reve Dubai.
Other Houses include, Avenue Towers, Lagos, Colina D’Oro Montagnola, Switzerland, Block A consisting of 26 Flats at No 46, Gerrard Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, Mason apartments situated at No6 Gerrard Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, Marion Apartment located at 4 and 5 Onikoyi Estate, Banana Island, Ikoyi, 33A Cooper Road Ikoyi, Lagos, 8 Gerrard Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, Griove End Road, London, Land, 807 Cima Del Mundo, Mont Tremblant, Canada.
Other assets the government wants to seize are the Galatica Star yatch, a 20-year Berth Lease in Barcelona, Watch collection, a collection of 58 vehicles, a Global Express S5-GMG jet, a Bombadier Global 600 9H-OPE, Bombardier.