Abuja — The Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation (OAuGF) has queried the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) over the withdrawal of $759.39 million from the Signature Bonus Account.
The OAuGF, in its audit report on the Accounts of the Federation of Nigeria for 2018, presented to the National Assembly, October 2020, and released few days ago, stated that the DPR withdrew the money from its Signature Bonus Account domiciled with JP Morgan Chase Bank between July 7, 2014 and May 8, 2015.
This OAuGF disclosed that the infraction was due to the failure of the Director of the DPR to strictly comply with the provisions of extant laws and regulations and not circumvent laid down procedures guiding the sweeping of revenues generated by ministries, departments and agencies of government (MDA) to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF).
The OAuGF said, “We observed during our audit that the sum of US$469,387,755.10 was withdrawn from the Signature Bonus Account of the Department domiciled with JP Morgan Chase Bank between April 10th and April 30th 2015 and paid to an account called, ‘CBN Autonomous FEM Account Garki Abuja Nigeria’, rather than being swept to the Federation account in line with the provision of the law.
“Similarly, US$290,000,000.00 was withdrawn from the Signature Bonus Account domiciled with JP Morgan Chase Bank in three tranches: July 7th, 2014 – $100,000,000.00; February 19th 2015 – $40,000,000.00; and May 8th 2015 – $150,000,000.00, via Standard Chartered Bank to First Bank Nigeria, in favour of Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) with the description, ‘Being funds released to PTDF for Execution of Critical Project’ rather than being swept to Federation Account.
“These withdrawals from the Signature Bonus account are recognized in the books of the Department. No explanation was provided on these withdrawals as the Department claimed that it has no control over withdrawal from the Signature Bonus Account, though it accounts for such withdrawals in its cash book.”
The risk associated with such activity, according to the OAuGF, was that the DPR may engage in unauthorized movement of funds from its revenues and government revenues may not be properly accounted for.
The OAuGF disclosed that the management of the DPR was yet to provide any response over the infractions as at the time the 2018 audit report was been presented to the National Assembly.
However, the OAuGF recommended that the Director of the DPR should be compelled to produce the source of authority to the Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly, authorizing the transfer of funds from the Signature Bonus Account to any other account other than to the Federation Account.
“Furthermore, the Accountant-General of the Federation and the Honourable Minister of Finance should forward to the Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly, the details of the utilisation of the US$759,387,755.10 withdrawn from the Signature Bonus Account,” it added.