Company included in crude oil trade denies involvement in fuel subsidy fraud

An oil marketing and trading company listed by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, for this year’s crude oil trade despite its indictment in the 2012 fuel subsidy fraud has denied any wrongdoing.

Setana Energy Ltd was among the 18 indigenous companies awarded contracts for the 2017/2018 crude trade of 32,000 barrels per day.

At least six of the companies were fingered in the 2009-2011 fuel subsidy fraud and are still facing criminal charges over the matter.

The company did not initially respond to PREMIUM TIMES’ enquiries on whether it had been cleared of the indictment charges before being included in the latest round of beneficiaries for the crude trade.

Days after the story was published however, Setana Energy responded that it had been cleared by the Presidential Committee on Verification and Reconciliation of Fuel Subsidy Payments (PCVRFSP).

“Please note that Setana Energy Limited was duly cleared by this Committee, and all four transactions carried out by Setana Energy Limited under the PSF Scheme was duly verified by the Audit committee,” Ejiofor Onyiuke, a spokesperson for the company said in an email.

“Setana Energy was not referred to any Law Enforcement Agency (EFCC, SFU, or DSS) for further investigation.

“Please also note that Setana Energy has not been charged to court by any court of competent jurisdiction in Nigeria or anywhere in the world for any matter relating the Petroleum Product Subsidy payments under the FGN PSF Scheme.”

A tale of two reports

Following the monumental fraud that characterised the Petroleum Support Fund (PSF) scheme between 2009 and 2011, the Nigerian government set up the Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede-led PCVRFSP to review fuel subsidy claims.

In its report in June 2012, the committee found there was no evidence that the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) conducted due diligence on Setana Energy before issuing it permit to import 30,000 metric tons of fuel in 2011 – meaning that the company was not pre-qualified and therefore was not granted permit to import premium motor spirit under the PSF.

The committee also found that the company relied on the resources of other firms to participate in the PSF (for instance, it had zero retail outlets); was given permit before it applied for it; and was allocated products before it signed an agreement with the PPPRA.

However, in its November 2012 Report on PMS Shore Tank Discharges and Sales Proceeds for 2011, the PCVRFSP stated that Setana Energy engaged in four transactions and claimed a total subsidy of N6.6 billion.

“All four transactions were verified as legitimate,” it added.

At the same time, the House of Representatives had constituted a committee headed by Farouk Lawan (PDP, Kano) to investigate the irregularities in the fuel subsidy payments.

The House committee listed Setana Energy as a marketer that had no tank-farm, never used its through-put agreement yet used it to claim N2.7 billion as fee for importation of 44.8 million litres of premium motor spirit under the PSF scheme.

While the PCVRFSP technical committee recommended that illegal payments made to oil marketers be recovered, the House committee called for the prosecution of fraudulent beneficiaries.

Setana Energy Limited was not charged to court.

The NNPC two weeks ago listed 18 Nigerian companies as among those that would participate in the 2017/2018 crude oil trade.

They include Oando Plc. Sahara Energy, MRS Oil and Gas, AA Rano, Bono, Masters Energy, Eterna Oil and Gas, Cassiva Energy, Hyde Energy, and Brittania U.

The rest are NorthWest Petroleum, Optima Energy, AMG Petroenergy, Arkiren Oil and Gas Limited, Entourage Oil, Setana Energy, and Prudent Energy.

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