NNPC faults firm’s $125m claim on alleged stolen crude

NNPC faults firm’s $125m claim on alleged stolen crude

By Eric Ikhilae, Abuja

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has faulted the claim by a firm, Samano Sa De Cv and its officials – Ramirez and Jose Salazar Tinajero – that they were entitled to $125million as compensation for providing information about some 48 million barrels of crude oil allegedly stolen from Nigeria and stored in China since 2015.

NNPC said the claim by Samao and its officials about the supposed 48 million barrel of crude oil stored in China had been thoroughly investigated by a presidential committee, which found no truth in it.

In a letter by its lawyer, Kehinde Ogunwumiju (SAN), the NNPC argued that the claim by Samao and its officials that they were entitled to 5 per cent whistle blower compensation in respect of the said 48 million barrels of crude oil is wrong because the information turned out to be false.

The letter, dated July 30, 2020 was addressed to the lawyer to Samao and its officials, Gboyega Oyewole (SAN), in response to his earlier letter demanding 5 per cent whistle blower compensation for his clients in relation to the information on the supposed stolen 48 million barrels of crude oil.

NNPC queried the integrity of Samao and its officials and noted instances where they were involved in criminal activities before now, on account of which they were allegedly convicted or standing trial in courts.

It explained that Samao “had contacted officials of the Federal Government sometime in 2015 with information in respect of 48 million barrels of Nigerian bonny light crude oil allegedly stolen from Nigeria and stored in various ports and terminals in the People’s Republic of China.

“Samao offered to purchase the alleged stolen crude upon its recovery. Even though its claim was difficult to believe given the stern procedures underpinning crude oil handling and export operations, the FG, in collaboration with the NNPC, set out to verify these claims and requested for evidence to that effect, which was never provided by Samao.

“Notwithstanding its failure to provide evidence to support its claims, relevant officials of the government were mandated to proceed to China to verify the claims of the existence of the said stolen Nigerian crude oil.

“The said delegation discovered that the Samao’s claim was false and baseless. Consequently, the government severed communications with the syndicate.

“Miffed by this, Messrs. Ramirez and Jose Salazar Tinajero, acting as agents of Samao, resorted to blackmail and intimidation of key officials of the government and the NNPC, threatening to make public information that the said 48 million barrels of oil had been recovered, sold and the proceeds there from looted by some government officials and the NNPC when it was aware that this was untrue.

“They also demanded $125,000,000:00 from said government officials, which was conveniently and rightfully ignored. Thereafter, NNPC reported this case of attempted blackmail to the Department of State Services (DSS) and the Nigeria Police Force (NPF).

“They, upon investigation, discovered that Mr Ramirez is facing two separate and unconnected criminal charges at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja in charge No: FCT/HC/CR/147/2016 and the Federal High Court, Lagos in Charge No: ID/2763/2016.

“Both charges were preferred against Mr Ramirez by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for economic and financial crimes.

“The said Mr. Ramirez and his cohorts have since been charged to several courts in Nigeria for criminal offences ranging from fraud, forgery, extortion, blackmail, conspiracy, etc.

“The charge which relates to the attempt to fleece the Federal Government and NNPC is Charge No.: FCT/HC/BU/CR/134/2019 between the Federal Republic of Nigeria v. Marco Antonio Ramirez & 4 Others pending before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory Abuja.

“But for the due diligence of the management of the NNPC, the Federal Government would have lost a whopping sum of $125,000,000:00.

“The NNPC is currently consulting its lawyers Afe Babalola & Co in a bid to take corresponding legal action(s) against the said syndicate for damages done to its reputation and its officials as a result of the false publications by the syndicate.”

Source: thenationonlineng.net