Nigeria probes $ 1.2 bn missing after oil block bidding round

Jul 03, 2009 02:00 AM

The House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts raised an alarm that about $ 1.2 bn which was accrued to the Federal Government in respect of the 2005 oil block bidding round had not been remitted to the appropriate accounts and could not be traced.
It has therefore summoned the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Dr Lamido Sanusi and Executive Secretary of the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), Alhaji Mutaqah Darma, to appear before the committee to throw more light on the issue.

Chairman of the House Committee, Honourable Usman Adamu, who blew the whistle at the commencement of an investigative hearing, said the fund accrued from signature bonuses of the oil block bidding round was supposed to have been paid into a Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) reserve account but it was not. Adamu alleged that the government of former President Olusegun Obasanjo directed that the money should not be paid into PTDF account but that the money should be kept in a special account at the CBN.
There are however conflicting reports about the actual amount in the special account. Authorities at the CBN claimed that the amount was actually $ 1.07 bn and not $ 1.2 bn.

Mr Mohammed Nda, an official of the apex bank, disclosed that the shortfall occurred because some refunds were made to some firms that benefited from the oil bid round but later lost out when the awards were cancelled and re-allocated to other investors.
Accountant General of the Federation, Ibrahim Dankwambo, also adopted the figure position of the CBN. Dankwambo, represented by Mr O.I. Osibote, said that the office of the AGF raised a letter of credit in favour of the Ministry of Finance to cover $ 231 mm being a refund to one of the investors, the Korean National oil Company (KNOC) whose oil block allocation was later revoked.

He explained that there was no fraudulent deal but that it was only fair that KNOC be refunded the amount it paid since its allocation was cancelled.
"We don't knowwhether the letter of credit has been utilised. We don't know the status of the credit. But $ 231 mm was a letter of credit in favour of Ministry of Finance. We asked both the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and the Ministry of Finance what the amount was originally and what the status is now. We want to find out whether it has been utilised," Osibote said.

Source / This Day
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