Fraudulent Nigerian oil firm is “virtually broke”, owes millions of dollars – NNPC

Ugo-Nnadi from the court [Photo: Information Nigeria]

Ontario Oil & Gas Limited, which was convicted for subsidy fraud, is yet to make a formal commitment to settle all its outstanding debts under a crude oil swap contract that existed between 2012 and 2014, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, said on Sunday.

The spokesperson of the NNPC, Ndu Ughamadu, disclosed this in a statement to clarify earlier information on Friday that the company had offered to pay $10 million as part of a total $184 million that three crude oil trading companies agreed to pay the NNPC after the reconciliation of transaction records.

“Contrary to information we provided earlier, which we got from our team that negotiated with the companies, Ontario Oil & Gas Limited offered nothing. In fact, the company is virtually broke,” Mr. Ughamadu said in a telephone chat with PREMIUM TIMES on Saturday.

“They said we (NNPC) should take its tank farm at Oghara in Delta State. But, when it was valued, it was far below what they are owing. We are still negotiating with them.”

On Friday, Mr. Ughamadu had said that Ontario had offered to pay $17 million, while Telaveras agreed to pay $10 million.

However, in his latest clarification, he said the team had corrected the figures to show that rather than Ontario, it was Telaveras, which actually agreed to make an initial tranche payment of $17.2 million within the next two weeks and $10 million in subsequent tranche payments.

Mr. Ughamadu said AITEO Energy also made a commitment to pay its debt, although no detail was given as to how much the company offered.

He said the NNPC management was committed to sanitise the record books through a painstaking reconciliation of the transactions executed during the defunct crude for product swap regime.

“We will provide the public, through the media, up-to-date information on the ongoing effort by the Corporation to recover all debts owed the company,” he said.

The spokesperson said in line with the ongoing reforms in the industry, the NNPC management was committed to the full recovery of the outstanding $184 million crude-swap product under-deliveries.

Besides, he said, the corporation would ensure that the full value of stock of its missing petrol in Capital Oil depot which currently stands at 82 million litres amounting to over N11 billion was recovered.

The NNPC commended the two companies involved in the reconciliation exercise – AITEO Energy Resources and Televaras Group of Companies – which have registered their commitment to settle all outstanding obligations.

THE FRAUDULENT ONTARIO

While the NNPC seeks to recover millions of dollars from Ontario, the company and its owners were in January convicted for fraud.

Justice Lateefa Okunnu of the Lagos High Court convicted Ontario Oil and Gas, and its promoters, Walter Wagbatsoma and Adaoha Ugo-Nnadi, on an eight-count charge of fuel subsidy fraud.

The judge said the prosecution had accused Mr. Wagbatsoma, Mrs. Ugo-Nnadi, and Ontario Oil and Gas of collecting N942 million as subsidy payment instead of N602 million.

Mr. Wagbatsoma is the chairman of the company while Mrs. Ugo-Nnadi is the managing director.

The judge also said the prosecution gave evidence that the convicts discharged “a much lesser quantity” of petrol in their transaction with the government and presented a forged shore tank certificate.

“The fourth defendant defrauded the federal government of N340 million,” she said.

A prosecution witness gave evidence that, in the first transaction, Ontario Oil paid N37 million for 12 million litres of fuel in a throughput agreement with Integrated oil and Gas, but later collected subsidy for 19 million litres.

In the second transaction, the company collected subsidy for 19 million litres while they paid a throughput agreement with Obat Oil worth N28 million for 10 million litres of fuel.

“Both the first and second defendants signed the cheque for the throughput agreement,” the judge quoted the witness as saying.

Another prosecution witness, Obinna Ukonu, a store officer at Integrated Oil and Gas, gave evidence that Ontario brought in 12 million litres of fuel via a mother vessel, MT Pacific, and then a daughter vessel, MT Union Brave. The same quantity was “trucked out” by the company.

“I find that there is credible, concrete evidence that the quantity of petrol discharged was 12 million litres,” said the judge.

“Evidence by the prosecution is that the product was discharged into one tank which cannot contain more than 16.5 million litres because of an inbuilt floating roof that takes about two million litres.”

An exhibit that the judge described as “very damaging” to the defendants’ case was Exhibit D1, a calibrated report which showed that the tank in question cannot contain more than 18 million litres of fuel.

CONVICTED IN ABSENTIA

In 2012, when the convicts were first arraigned, Mr. Wagbatsoma was absent.

Rotimi Jacobs, the EFCC counsel, told the then judge, Habeeb Abiru, that he had fled to the U.S. to avoid trial.

When he eventually returned to face trial, the judge imposed a N450 million bail on him.

In July last year, despite the court holding his international passport and other travel documents, Mr. Wagbatsoma was arrested in Germany and extradited to the UK to face money laundering charges.

He is currently under house arrest in the UK.

The judge said Mr. Wagbatsoma during his testimony tried to distance himself from the running of Ontario Oil and Gas.

“The first defendant while testifying laboured to convince the court that he was not involved in the day to day running of the fourth defendant, but he signs the cheques,” Mrs. Okunnu said.

“He is of sound, literate mind. Over and over again, he informed the court he sits on the board of 27 companies. He knew what he was doing when he signed those cheques, and there is evidence that he used the money from the subsidy payment.”

For Mrs. Ugo-Nnadi, the judge described her as the “operating mind and the alter ego” of the company.

“She had full knowledge of the entire exercise.”

The judge also said she had no doubt that the company forged shore tank certificate, used for the subsidy payment.

“I find the first, second, and fourth defendants guilty of forgery. All three of them conspired as there was a meeting of minds,” she said.

The case against Mr. Fakuade, who was discharged and acquitted, was that he signed and embossed the PPPRA stamp on a forged document, the judge said.

“There is nothing that shows that he was aware of the real document that showed the actual amount of fuel discharged. It was simply gross negligence on his part.”

BEG FOR MERCY

Before she began reading the sentencing for the crimes, the defence lawyers said they would make a “plea allocotus” – to beg the judge to temper justice with mercy.

The lawyer said Mrs. Ugo-Nnadi had been having “very serious health challenges” but has managed to be attending all the trial proceedings.

“It is our humble plea that a custodial sentence will do serious damage to her health as a result of the crowding in the prison and three or four doctors to hundreds of inmates,” the lawyer said.

He said his client is a mother of “very young children” and a prison stay would deprive her children of her “mother and father” roles.

He also said the embarrassment and loss of businesses the second defendant had suffered is enough restitution for her crime.

“The second defendant throughout the trial has suffered psychologically. She has been the butt of publications online, written press, television. She has suffered so much.”

But Mr. Jacobs said anything short of sending the convict to prison would make a mockery of the fight against corruption.

“It will send a wrong signal that custodial sentence is the preserve of the poor and the rich cannot go to jail,” said Mr. Jacobs, a senior advocate of Nigeria.

“The purpose of our criminal law is to ensure that those who contravene the law do not escape the consequences of the law.”

The judge subsequently sentenced both Mr. Wagbatsoma and Mrs. Ugo-Nnadi to 10 years in prison.

She also ordered restitution for Ontario Oil and Gas, and asked the company to refund N754 million being the amount it defrauded the Nigerian government.


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  • Haba mallam

    Here we go again, is all Igbo men and women, Biafraud people ruined this Country Nigeria, even Ngozi Okonjo a Havard/MIT graduate a finance Minister for over 8 years stood aside and watch while her tribe men and women robbed this country naked, kai shegu mutane, barayi dukkansu wallahi

    • Rommel

      Are you sick in the head or something?

      • Romberg

        If is sickness of the mind. You don’t mind people like that. The last time I checked Buhari, Magu, Kyari, Lawal, Saraki and Ali are all thieves. They are not from the south.

        Buhari used £50,000 of Nigerian taxpayers’ to treat his ear infection. His recent 49 days medical leave and the cost of his ongoing treatment after that is already close to a million pounds. Isn’t that fraud? A 73 years old who doesn’t know ageing is a definite cause of his medical problems is fraudulent. He should return whatever he has taken from Nigerians. Imagine, the whole Nigerian health sector doesn’t receive the amount of money that Buhari has taken for his sicknesses alone. I won’t pretend Buhari is not going to be sick again. But Buhari will not pay for his own medicals but Nigerians. That is fraud, authored by a non-Igbo!

        • Rommel

          Seems this head sickness is spreading,what da hell have you been smoking?

        • Julius

          How much did the 7 surgeries that mama piss had in Germany cost the tax payers in the country and her husband medical check ups in both UK and the USA ? You should know since you knew how much Buhari spent for his ear infection

        • Suleiman Alatise

          The mind sickness has spread to you no doubt.

    • absam777

      You are very reckless with your comment. Show that you have any brain in your head.

      • Haba mallam

        Well, 95% of all reported frauds by Nigerians locally or internationally is all Igbo, translate that Mr Brainiac!

        • Kamoru

          Including Dino, Dasuki, the grass-cutter of present administration etc.

    • ayo

      This your abuse of other tribes shows you as a bigot…We have criminal across all tribes in Nigeria….Stop your ignorance……

    • ijelejames

      Grow up and stop being a wild bigot.

    • Moore

      The thieves are all friends and cut across the different religions, tribes, clans and political parties. Stop viewing this as a crime associated with any particular group. This is a done by most of the so called rich people while poor people are from different ethnic groups are insulting one another online.

      • Julius

        Straight talk !

  • Julius

    Had Jonathan won the re-election, nothing would have been heard about this.

    • Peter_Edo

      absolutely nothing!!!

      • Julius

        Yup, you are correct !

    • Mufu Ola

      And more frauds would have been committed against Nigeria by the same company.

      • Julius

        Yep, Diezani will still be living large in Abuja cancer free and mama piss will still be visiting Drs in Germany doing tummy-tuck surgery thou she won’t lose weight.

  • sammyctu ode

    I don’t believe that these fraudulent oil company is broke. They must have buried millions somewhere or put millions in relatives accounts. The husband ran away since four years ago how has he been living lavishly overseas? Nnpc should stop deceiving us cos it’s under their noses that all these oil scams happened. Nnpc boys and girls are very corrupt and animals so they should stop taking Nigerians for a ride. How did these convicts paid all their high profile lawyers yet they are telling us they are broke. Nnpc is protecting them.

  • new republic

    I thank God for Nigeria,our lives been messed up if not Buhari all this will be buried.

  • Kay Soyemi (Esq.)

    Like I wrote earlier on this topic, restitution is not a remedy.

    The directors were criminals, they should be made to serve penal time in jail for their actions.

  • share Idea

    While this administration is using every media efforts to demonstrate its resolve to recover government funds with people, I have never seen them make such noise towards genuine Nigerians tbat they are owing.

    Tbe othrr time it was repirted that ASO Rock – presidency was owing electricity company for power consumed, yet government expects to have constant light or whdn tbe supply engages in illegal means to ensure that their business stays afloat, same government will demonise them. He who goes to equity must go with clean heads. 90% of all the corruption cases in Nigeria are as a result of fertile ground provided by government actions or in-actions.

    For me, I prefer strong institutions as advocated by previous administration than strongman mentality of APC government which will never stand the test of time

    • Mufu Ola

      Which one has stand the test of time?

    • Tanko Maihula

      hahahahahahah