FG probes Mobil over alleged $1.9bn fraud, to recover $7bn CBN bailout to banks

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The federal government disclosed on Wednesday that it is investigating multinational giants, including Mobil Oil Producing for allegedly shortchanging Nigeria in the payment for the oil blocks they acquired as well as in remittance of taxes.

It also launched investigation into the over $7 billion bailout funds given to commercial banks in 2006, revealing that the banks have not refunded the money, thus triggering economic adversity for Nigeria.

Senior presidential assistant and Chairman of the Special Panel on Recovery of Public Properties, Mr. Okoi Obono-Obla, disclosed this at a press conference in Abuja that the oil giant, Mobil Oil, committed the act in 2009 after it acquired an oil block for $2.5billion but remitted only $600 million into the federation account and is yet to pay the balance of $1.9billion.

Obono-Obla, who spoke at an Anti-Corruption Situation Room on Public Presentation of Expert Analysis of OPL 245, otherwise known as Malabu Oil, yesterday in Abuja, disclosed that apart from Mobil Oil Producing Nigeria, the panel is also investigating a lot of multinational oil companies in Nigeria over their failure to pay taxes to the government.

According to him, “We are also investigating Mobil Oil Producing and that is quite instructive because we are here to deal with the misbehaviour of oil companies in Nigeria, particularly multinational oil companies in Nigeria and Mobil is one of them.

“We are investigating Mobil over their failure to remit over $1.9billion to the federation account arising out of the purchase of oil block by Mobil in 2009. The price of that oil block was about $2.5bn and Mobil paid only $600m, so we want to recover the $1.9m that is outstanding.

“We are also investigating a lot of oil companies because of their failure to pay tax, a lot of them don’t pay tax, you can imagine how much they are making and yet a lot of them don’t pay tax; that is a classic example of lawlessness and causing economic adversity to the country.”

Outside the oil companies, Obono-Obla disclosed that the panel is also investigating the bailout funds granted to commercial banks in the country in 2006, expressing shock that the funds, apart from the fact that they were yet to be refunded was misconceived to be a “dash” to the banks.

“If you recall that in 2006 the Central Bank of Nigeria gave out bailout funds to commercial banks to the tune of $7billion. When we got to the CBN to update us whether this fund has been paid back the Central Bank of Nigeria said that in 2006 its Board of Directors met and passed a resolution dashing $7billion to these commercial banks.

“You can imagine dashing public money; we are going to recover that money because the commercial banks do not belong to the Nigerian people but to private individuals.”

While describing the Malabu scam as a classic example of abuse of office and economic sabotage by corrupt public officials and their cohorts, Obono-Obla warned that the panel would investigate the issue with a view to ensuring that all those involved are dealt with and that everything stolen is recovered from them.

In his remarks, Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Financial Crimes, Oladele Kayode said Nigeria lost over $10 billion in the OPL 245 oil bloc. To this end, he said the House has vowed that everybody involved in that deal must be punished.

According to him, “It is a common knowledge that the entitlement to the Federal Government in the deal was just a signature bonus. The real beneficiary was Malabu Oil. I have the privilege of reading some of the findings and discoveries on the outcome of investigations by oil experts.

“They estimated the loss at $6 billion. It is well over $10 billion. So, it will be correct to say that the loss to Nigeria was well over $10 billion,” he said.

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