FG Closes Its Case In $110M Suit Against Agip Nigeria PLC

* Source : metrowatchonline.com



The Federal Government yesterday closed its case in the suit it filed to recover a sum of $110 million from Nigeria Agip Oil Company Limited.

In the suit filed before the Federal High Court in Lagos, the Federal Government accused the oil giant of under-declaring the volume of crude oil it shipped out of the country between January 2011 and December 2014.

The FG alleged that Agip short-changed it to the tune of $55m.

The government is praying the court to compel the oil firm to pay the $55 million with an annual interest of 21 per cent.

It also wants the court to award another $55 million against Agip as exemplary damages.

The legal battle has been on before Justice Mojisola Olatoregun since late 2016.

Yesterday, the Federal Government, represented by Prof Fabian Ajogwu (SAN), closed its case.

Justice Olatoregun adjourned till today for Agip to open its defence.

Similar lawsuits were filed against Total E&P Nigeria Plc and Chevron Nigeria Limited by the Federal Government .

In the case of Total, FG sought to recover $245,258,640, “being the total value of the missing revenues from the shortfall under-declared/undeclared crude oil shipments of the Federal Government of Nigeria”.

The Federal Government sought another $245,258,640 as general damages.

The government said the lawsuits followed a forensic analysis linking the decline in crude oil export and government revenue at the time to the alleged under-declaration of the volume of crude oil shipped out of the country by the oil companies.

The Federal Government claimed to have uncovered the alleged illegality using high-technology information technology system, including satellite tracking systems, which were deployed by its consultants.

The statements of claims were backed up with supporting affidavits deposed to by three United States of America-based experts – Prof David Olowokere, a US citizen and Lead Analyst at Loumos Group LLC, US; Jerome Stanley, a lawyer in the law firm of Henchy & Hackenberg, and Micheal Kanko, founder and Chief Executive Officer, Trade Data Services Company, State of Arizona, US.

According to the deponents, about 57 million barrels of crude oil were allegedly illegally exported by Total and sold to buyers in the US between January 2011 and December 2014 without making due remittance to the Federal Government.

The deponents cited, in the court papers, an instance where Total allegedly shipped out 968,784 barrels of crude oil, valued at $106,566240, using a vessel named, TRIATHLON with a bill of lading numbered, TCVMTRIATIA 1388, and failed to declare same to the relevant government agency.

The deponents claimed that the said crude oil was sold to Tostsa Total oil Trading SA of San Felipe Plaza-Suite 2100,5847SAN FELIPE, 770557-HOUSTON, US at the port of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

They cited another instance where about 491,850 barrels of crude oil, valued at $54,103,500, were allegedly shipped out without making remittance to the government.

The said crude oil was allegedly shipped out with a vessel named NORTH STAR, with a bill of lading marked, DROESVD23091101, and sold to BP Products North America of 501 Westlake Park Boulvard, Houston, TX 77079 United States, at port of Texas City.

They also cited two other different occasions where 768,990 barrels of crude oil, valued at $84,588,910 was loaded on a vessel named AUTHENTIC with bills of lading marked, ALMYSVDM17041101 and17041102, and allegedly sold to Socap International Limited of Cannon’s Court, 22 Victoria Street, Hamilton, HM12.Bermuda at the port of Chester Pennsylvanian, United States, without making due remittance to the government.

The government alleged that the oil companies bypassed the pre-shipment agents appointed by the Central Bank of Nigeria to inspect crude oil shipments, leading to the failure of the shipment records to be deposited at the Ministry of Finance.


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