Senate insists on probing $5bn fraud petition against Chevron
The Senate on Tuesday insisted on investigating alleged fraud amounting to over $4,926,464,100 as contained in
a petition brought before it against Chevron Nigeria Limited.
It rejected the request by the petitioner, Dr George Uboh of Panic Alert Security System (PASS) who had written to inform the Senate Committee on Ethics of his decision to withdraw the petition.
Chairman of the Committee, Senator Samuel Anyanwu (Imo East), noted that Uboh and the Executive Director of Finance for Chevron, Mr Uwakwe J.U already appeared before the committee and made presentations.
Uboh, according to the report, had alleged that between 2001-2002, Chevron evaded tax to the tune of over $343 million through over bloating of its operational costs under Petroleum Profit Tax, using Carry Agreement with NNPC as a cover when such agreement never existed with the company.
“That Chevron Nigeria Limited recouped spurious loan of $235 million from the Nigeria Federation between 2002 and 2005 for overdue cash calls; that Chevron conspired with some oil producing companies, NNPC auditors and defrauded the Federation of Nigeria by over $3.6 billion by merely manipulating accounts and records which were also done under the umbrella of Carry Agreements,” the report added.
The report stated that the representative of Chevron had denied that the oil company recouped spurious loans from the NNPC or from any other entity.
“That Chevron Nigeria Limited received notice of Assessment for Education Tax, Education Tas Gas and Gas Income tax and later made payment of $38,259,021 via Citibank on 28th August 2006 for the three assessments,” it added.
Anyanwu told the lawmakers that the committee was settling down to examine submissions of the petitioner and respondent when the petitioner asked to withdraw his case.
“Consequently the committee could not continue with the case since the petitioner has given up on the matter. Based on the petitioner’s decision to withdraw the case, the committee recommended that the case be stepped down,” Anyanwu added.
Contributing to debate on the matter, Senator Dino Melaye (APC-Kogi West), however, argued that the petitioner seemed to incline to waste the time of the lawmakers.
He added that the Ethics Committee, of which he is a member, had already spent time working on the petitions.
“The Senate is not a police station, you cannot petition the Senate and come back later to say you have withdrawn it. It is expected that before a petition comes to this Senate, due diligence must have been done. We are talking of almost $5 billion,” he said.
Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu agreed with Melaye’s submission but added that the Senate should go ahead to conduct an investigation into the petition, whether the petitioner withdraws it, or not.
“We can refer it to the Committee on Finance, or set up an ad-hoc committee to investigate it because this is about funds belonging to Nigeria. We are going to China and other places to borrow money, if we recover this, it will go a long way,” he said.
Presiding Senate President Abubakar Bukola Saraki ruled that the petition would be investigated by an ad-hoc committee.