International Oil Company Owes FG $1.6bn in Taxes – EFCC Witness Alleges
Mr Emefun Etudo, a prosecution witness for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Wednesday, alleged that
and Trafigura PTE Ltd, an international oil company, owed the Federal Government of Nigeria $1.6 billion in unpaid taxes.
Etudo made this known during a cross-examination by Mr Taiwo Osipitan (SAN) at the trial of foreign oil company and five Nigerian associates over alleged $8.4 million theft at an Ikeja Special Offences Court, where he alleged that Trafigura falsely claimed they did not have a Nigerian office in a bid to evade taxes due to the Federal Government.
He said, “Trafigura has operational office at Sinari Daranijo Str., Victoria Island, Lagos which is known to everybody and Yusuf Kwande (the third defendant) admitted in an EFCC deposition that he and some people were responsible for the Nigerian operations of the company.
“I know so many things about these people, Trafigura will never register in Nigeria, they lied to the Nigerian government because they didn’t want to pay $1.6 billion in tax due to the FG. I was there when Trafigura was invited to the National Assembly, they said they didn’t have an operating office in Nigeria, the third defendant (Kwande) lied to Nigeria. Their office is at Sinari Daranijo Street, off Ligali Ayorinde Street, Victoria Island, Lagos on Oct. 22, 2008 to Dec. 15, 2008, they are one of the causes of the problems of Nigeria,” Etudo alleged.
The witness said that all the invoices of Trafigura in Nigeria has inscription Y. Y. K (Yusuf Yahaya Kwande) which is the initials of the third defendant and that Kwande never denied this fact when confronted by the Nigeria Police and the EFCC.
“It was Kwande who issued the controversial proforma invoice of the vessel MT Ozay6 in favour of Jil Engineering. Every proforma invoice has his initials of Y. Y. K, another name of his is Babs, he wrote and admitted the invoice dated Nov. 21.”
“He has admitted responsibility for the missing cargo and he listed the invoice number, he admitted that they brought Jil Engineering and Services Ltd. (seventh defendant) to purchase the cargo at an agreed price. He issued the proforma invoice, MT Ozay 6 was brought by Jil Engineering and Services and the Captain prepared the bill of lading that took away the vessel from Apapa,” Etudo said.
Earlier, during cross-examination by Mr Bode Olanipekun (SAN) the defence counsel for Trafigura, Etudo said that contract number three marked 17904 was not entered between Mettle Energy and Gas, Renbrandt (fourth and fifth defendant) and Trafigura.
He however affirmed that the contract between Rendbrandt and Trafigura on behalf of Nadabo Energy Ltd., the complainant in the case was genuine.
Etudo, a lawyer whose services were once engaged by Kwande revealed that the defendants instructed him to go after Jil Engineering and Oil Services Ltd. to cover their tracks in the alleged $8.4million fraud.
“The contract number 179041 is not between Mettle Energy and Gas, Rendbrandt and Trafigura but it is a contract between Rendbrandt and Trafigura on behalf of Nadabo Energy Ltd. The contract was executed and they illegally took away the cargo. I discovered this in the course of my investigation,” Etudo said.
NAN reports that Trafigura is charged alongside their Nigerian associates- Yusuf Kwande, Mettle Energy and Gas, Rendbrandt Ltd., Osahon Asemota and Jil Engineering and Oil Services Ltd.
They face a three-count charge bordering on conspiracy, stealing and receiving stolen property proffered against them by the EFCC.
The EFCC, in the charges, accused the defendants of fraudulently converting to their personal use, $8.4million of Automated Gas Oil (AGO) at the office of Trafigura Beheer BV.
The allegedly stolen AGO was the property of Nadabo Energy Ltd., and was kept in the legal custody of the now defunct Spring Bank on Victoria Island.
The offences contravened Sections 383(1), 427 and 516 of the Criminal Code Law of Lagos State 2003.
Justice Mojisola Dada adjourned the case until Jan. 7, 2019 and Jan. 11,2019 for continuation of trial. (NAN)