The Nigerian government on Tuesday closed its case in a suit before a Lagos Division of the Federal High Court seeking to recover $110 million from the Nigeria Agip Oil Company Limited.
The oil company, owned by Itslisn oik giant, Eni, under-declared the volume of crude oil it shipped out of the country between January 2011 and December 2014 to the tune of $55 million, the government said.
The government is urging the court to compel the oil company to pay the $55 million with an annual interest of 21 percent and another $55 million as exemplary damages.
The judge, Mojisola Olatoregun, adjourned till November 7 for Agip to open its defence.
Against Total, the government sought to recover $490 million – $245 million being the value of the company’s under-declared or undeclared crude oil shipments and another $245 million as general damages.
The government said the lawsuits followed a forensic analysis linking the decline in crude oil export and government revenue at the time to the alleged under-declaration of the volume of crude oil shipped out of the country by the oil companies.
The federal government claimed to have uncovered the alleged illegality using high-technology information technology system, including satellite tracking systems, which were deployed by its consultants.
The statements of claims were backed up with supporting affidavits deposed to by three United States of America-based experts – David Olowokere, a US citizen and Lead Analyst at Loumos Group LLC, US; Jerome Stanley, a lawyer in the law firm of Henchy & Hackenberg; and Micheal Kanko, founder and Chief Executive Officer,Trade Data Services Company, State of Arizona, US.
According to the deponents, about 57 million barrels of crude oil were allegedly illegally exported by Total and sold to buyers in the US between January 2011 and December 2014 without making due remittance to the Federal Government.
The deponents cited, in the court papers, an instance where Total allegedly shipped out 968,784 barrels of crude oil valued at $106,566240 using a vessel named, TRIATHLON, with a bill of lading numbered TCVMTRIATIA 1388 and failed to declare same to the relevant government agency.
The deponents claimed that the said crude oil was sold to Tostsa Total Oil Trading SA of San Felipe Plaza-Suite 2100,5847SAN FELIPE, 770557-HOUSTON, US, at the port of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
They cited another instance where about 491,850 barrels of crude oil, valued at $54,103,500, were allegedly shipped out without making remittance to the government.
The said crude oil was allegedly shipped out with a vessel named NORTH STAR, with a bill of lading marked, DROESVD23091101, and sold to BP Products North America of 501 Westlake Park Boulevard, Houston, TX 77079 United States, at the port of Texas City.
They further cited two different occasions where 768,990 barrels of crude oil valued at $84,588,910 was loaded on a vessel named AUTHENTIC with bills of lading marked ALMYSVDM 17041101 and 17041102 and allegedly sold to Socap International Limited of Cannon’s Court, 22 Victoria Street, Hamilton, HM12.Bermuda at the port of Chester Pennsylvanian, United States, without making due remittance to the government.
The government alleged that the oil companies by-passed the pre-shipment agents appointed by the Central Bank of Nigeria to inspect crude oil shipments, leading to the failure of the shipment records to be deposited at the Ministry of Finance.