Where is $18.5 billion earned by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) during former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration?
This is the puzzle the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is battling to resolve.
EFCC detectives probing the disappearance of the cash have traced eight suspected assets in Dubai to a former Managing Director of the Pipelines and Product Marketing Company (PPMC), Mr. Haruna Momoh. The PPMC is an arm of the NNPC.
The assets may be put under Interim Forfeiture as soon as the verification is completed by a team in Dubai, The Nation learnt.
The former PPMC boss, who is described as “the right hand man” of ex-Minister of Petroleum Resources Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, is expected to clear the air on how the nation incurred $205 million kerosene subsidy under his watch.
The EFCC is in possession of a report by Price Waterhouse Coopers, a forensic audit firm hired by the Federal Government, which indicted PPMC.
But there are conflicting reports on Momoh’s whereabouts.
The EFCC is said to be tracking his movement and assets, especially in the United Arab Emirates and Swiss Cottage, London, St. John’s Wood, London, New York and Lagos.
Eight of the suspected assets have been identified by a team of detectives in Dubai.
On the list of the houses in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are the following at First Group Marina Hotels, Al-Seba Street, Plot 394-426, Dubai, AE-AJ United Arab Emirates; Unit 503, one-bedroom Heritage, 5th Floor located at First Central Dubai Media City TECOM, off Sheikh Zayed, TECOM Al- Barsha 3 Dubai; Unit 1910 ES Heritage, 19th Floor located at First Central Dubai Media City TECOM, off Sheikh Zayed, TECOM Al- Barsha 3 Dubai; a Unit 2507 Dubai Sports City; Unit 314 Dubai Sports City; and Unit 1002, TECOM BARS 125616.
Others are Unit 1402, PS 14th Floor located at Metro Central, TECOM, near Internet City Metro Station, Dubai ( UAE); Unit 712, ES 7th Floor located at First Central, off Sheikh Zayeed, TECOM, Al-Barsha 3 Dubai( UAE); Unit 512, 5th floor located at First Group Marina Hotels, Al-Seba Street, Plot 394-426, Dubai AE-AJ UAE.
An EFCC source said: “Preliminary findings by our team showed that the ex-PPMC has a case to answer bordering on allegations of serving as a front for a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, the alleged $205 million kerosene subsidy scam while in charge of the subsidiary of NNPC; and the controversial $18.5b earnings by NNPC which have not been effectively accounted for.
“We have a report of the forensic audit of NNPC and its subsidiaries by Price Waterhouse Coopers which confirmed Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) and kerosine subsidy fraud. We need Momoh to clarify some issues.”
The PwC said in its report: “Our examination of the PMS and DPK import verified by PPPRA revealed that some discharges were apparently verified and subsidy advised to NNPC more than once”. The EFCC believes Momoh should interact with its team to say all he knows about the transactions.
The source confirmed that about $18.5b unaccounted earnings of NNPC were being examined.
“Again, the ex-Minister, Momoh and heads of subsidiaries are under probe. The PwC specifically identified $36.05m ‘over-statement’ in PPPRA’s PMS subsidy payment advice to the NNPC. The report recommended that the NNPC and its subsidiary, the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, should refund to the Federation Account ‘a minimum of $1.48b’. All these references referred to an audit report initiated by the administration of ex-President Jonathan.
Responding to a question, the top EFCC source added: “Our detectives have succeeded in tracing eight houses to him in Dubai.
“We are collaborating with the relevant agency in Dubai in order to attach the houses under Interim Forfeiture. We are hopeful that the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) will hasten the forfeiture.”
Sections 7 of 28 and 34 of the EFCC (Establishment Act) 2004 and Section 13(1) of the Federal High Court Act, 2004 mandate the agency to seize suspicious assets.
Section 7 says: “The commission has power to (a) cause any investigations to be conducted as to whether any person, corporate body or organization has committed any offence under this Act or other law relating to economic and financial crimes.
“(b) Cause investigations to be conducted into the properties of any person if it appears to the commission that the person’s lifestyle and extent of the properties are not justified by his source of income.”
Sections 28 and 34 of the EFCC (Establishment Act) 2004 and Section 13(1) of the Federal High Court Act, 2004 empower the anti-graft agency to invoke Interim Assets Forfeiture Clause.
“Section 28 of the EFCC Act reads: ‘Where a person is arrested for an offence under this Act, the Commission shall immediately trace and attach all the assets and properties of the person acquired as a result of such economic or financial crime and shall thereafter cause to be obtained an interim attachment order from the Court.’
Section 13 of the Federal High Court Act reads in part: “The Court may grant an injunction or appoint a receiver by an interlocutory order in all cases in which it appears to the Court to be just or convenient so to do.
(2) Any such order may be made either unconditionally or on such terms and conditions as the Court thinks just.”