The Special Fraud Unit (SFU) of the Nigeria Police says it is investigating a scam by oil subsidy racketeers involving 7,000MT of PMS valued at N832m which was fraudulently diverted with forged documents and then submitted to the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) Abuja for subsidy payment.
According to a press bulletin issued yesterday, a petition by the United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA) to the Commissioner of Police, Special Fraud Unit (SFU) alleged that a facility for the sum of N1b was granted to Ngozi Ofodum of Menol Oil & Gas Ltd in June 2011 to finance the importation of the 7,000MT of PMS for supply to acceptable off-takers.
The facility was to be secured with a Sovereign Debt Bond Note (SDBN) from the PPPRA to the order of UBA Plc/Menol Oil & Gas Ltd upon the submission of relevant documentation by the off-takers for verification and confirmation by PPPRA.
Towards that end, the 1st suspect, Ngozi Ofodum of Menol Oil & Gas Ltd contacted one Cynthia Gboneme of Faiceck Petroleum Ltd who accepted to off-take the imported products. The product was successfully supplied to Faiceck Petroleum and they were expected to return the evidence for the discharge of the products at a designated tank farm in Nigeria to enable Menol Oil & Gas Ltd collect the SDNB from PPPRA to liquidate the facility.
At that point, said the SFU, Faiceck Petroleum Ltd, whose directors are Cynthia Gboneme, Frank Gboneme and Ikechukwu Gboneme conspired with their logistics manager, one Ladi Utieyione and handed forged documents to Ms. Ofodum of Menol Oil & Gas Ltd. Those documents were rejected by PPPRA.
The SFU said that when the 7,000MT of PMS arrived in Nigeria, Ms. Ofodum entrusted the consignment to Ms. Gboneme and Faiceck Petroleum Ltd to handle.
While the product was supposed to have been discharged at Integrated Oil & Gas Depot, Lagos it was diverted to an unknown destination by Faiceck Petroleum Ltd. Ms. Ofodum further stated that when she confronted Faiceck Petroleum to ascertain how the products had disappeared, they lied that they had discharged it at the approved location, and presented her with some forged documents.
Ms. Gboneme confirmed the statement by Ms Ofodum that she accepted to be an off-taker of the product but that she handed the transaction to one Ladi Utieyione of Oversea Marine Ltd and that 4,512MT of PMS was discharged at Deep Water Tanker Marine Ltd due to lack of space at Integrated Oil & Gas Ltd, while the remaining 2,500MT was confiscated by the vessel owner as demurrage.
The other suspect, Mr. Utieyione corroborated Cynthia’s statement that only 4,512MT of PMS was discharged, while the remainder was seized by the vessel owner. He equally denied the allegation of forged documents and maintained that the documents submitted to PPPRA covered only 4,512MT which is awaiting subsidy payment.
“However, investigation so far revealed that the petitioner, UBA financed the importation of 7,000MT of PMS by the 1st suspect, Menol Oil & Gas Ltd which transaction was off-taken by the 2nd suspect’s company, Faiceck Petroleum Ltd,” said SFU.
It added that the transaction ran into troubled waters ostensibly through some sharp practices in the upstream sector of the petroleum industry orchestrated by some oil marketing companies, and that the suspects are now in Police custody assisting in the investigation.
“The Commissioner of Police in-charge of the Unit, CP Tunde Ogunsakin in his continuous pledge to eradicate fraud in the country has vowed to unveil the identities of the perpetrators of this fraudulent act at the conclusion of Police discreet investigation,” the statement concluded, adding, “No stone will be left unturned.”