08 September 2012, Sweetcrude, LAGOS – NIGERIA’S financial crimes watchdog, investigating a multi-billion dollar scam in a state fuel subsidy scheme, on Friday named three petrol retailing tycoons it wanted for fraud.
“The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has declared three oil marketers implicated in the multi-billion Naira fuel subsidy scam wanted,” an EFCC statement said.
It named them as Abdul Afeez Olarenwaju Olabisi of Fargo Petroleum and Gas Limited, Abubarka Peters Ali Jeldi, managing director of Nadabo Energy Limited and Ikechukwu Onuabuchi Nworgu of Star Inspection Services Nigeria Limited.
The statement said they were wanted for “criminal conspiracy, forgery, obtaining money by false pretenses and money laundering running into several billions of Naira (millions of dollars)”, adding that they allegedly obtain fuel subsidy under false pretenses, then disappeared when the EFCC launched its investigation.
Nigeria is trying to unravel a web of collusion between fuel importers and corrupt officials that has led to the state paying for nearly double the amount of fuel it received.
The fraudulent deals cost the treasury $6.8 billion over three years, according to one parliamentary probe.
Nigeria is among the top 10 crude oil exporters in the world but owing to decades of corruption and mismanagement it has to import most of its refined fuel.
The Finance Ministry is refusing to pay subsidies to fuel importers under investigation for fraud.
Last month, it distributed a list of 25 local oil companies that it says collected a combined 61.33 billion naira ($388.3 million) in subsidies for fuel they never delivered.
Oil workers’ trade unions, which are largely controlled by the companies, have threatened to strike unless payments to marketers are resumed, although they called one off last month.
President Goodluck Jonathan attempted to remove fuel subsidies in January, but more than a week of protests and strikes prompted their partial reinstatement.
An investigation by a committee set up by the president found that traders fraudulently collected 382 billion naira ($2.38 billion) last year in subsidy payments.