by Ayobami Olopade
While it is no news that Nigeria loses billions of dollars yearly to oil scammers, what is news is the fact that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and some Swiss traders have been indicted for being involved in the shady deals.
This was revealed in a report titled “Swiss Traders’ Opaque Deals in Nigeria”, published by Berne Declaration, a Switzerland-based non-governmental advocacy group.
According to Berne Declaration, “Every year, the Nigerian State coffers lose billions of dollars as large volumes of oil are exported for well below the market price, and the subsidy scheme for imports of refined crude oil products is systematically defrauded.”
It further revealed that “Swiss traders dominant in oil exports have been making good business with dubious Nigerian import firm.”
The expose` named two top oil companies in Switzerland, Vitol and Trafigura, as being culpable in the siphoning of subsidy payments to the tune of $6 bn in two years. It mentioned the various methods employed to embezzle the funds such as payment of subsidy money to non-existing importers, hiding behind numerous transactions to make the paperwork untraceable, using of subsidiary companies, among others.
Being an “all-powerful national company”, the NNPC is an integral component of petroleum production and had given Vitol and Trafigura over 26 percent of the market share. As a result “sales between the NNPC and its two Swiss partners were carried out at prices lower that the market rate.” Thus, “the profit generated by these entities escapes state coffers, first, because no taxation in Bermuda is paid, since the tax on profits is zero.”
The report goes further to state that “the extent of the problem is illustrated by the fact that the NNPC has not published detailed financial reports since 2005”
Aside selling the excess crude oil to the Swiss based companies or local oil marketers at lower prices, they are usually exchanged for refined products in ‘underground deals’ in what it describes as the greatest fraud to emerge from Africa.
The corporation is yet to make an official comment on this report.