The Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency has dismissed reports published on Tuesday by Reuters that indicted marketers were listed among the 40 companies that got allocations for the importation of petrol into the country for the third quarter of the year.
The Executive Secretary, PPPRA, Mr. Reginald Stanley, who spoke with journalists on Wednesday, described the report as “misleading and grossly wrong.”
He explained that no company indicted for the subsidy fraud as reported by Reuters was included in the latest list of importers.
Stanley said, “No company that was indicted in the subsidy claims report can import petroleum products under the new dispensation. In fact, even if we were foolish enough to include any of them, they will get stuck because the Ministry of Finance will not pay them.
“Finance (ministry) is resolute in cleaning up the subsidy mess and has not even finished paying off the genuine claims. So, it will be a big risk for any company indicted to go importing fuel, when it has not yet been cleared, and no businessman will want to tie down his money indefinitely.”
Reuters had claimed that companies previously named in a multi-billion dollar subsidy fraud investigation had been listed as parts of fuel suppliers for the third quarter.
“The list showed four companies that failed to cooperate with parliament’s probe were named as suppliers. These were Nepal, Fresh Synergy, Ibafon and Techno, which the parliamentary report showed collectively claimed subsidies of nearly $60m,” the report had said.
The report also mentioned companies such as Masters, Matrix and MRS, but explained that Matrix provided documents showing it had since been exonerated by the Nigerian authorities.
Stanley clarified that all of the companies mentioned by Reuters were cleared in the subsidy report.
He said, “Masters has been cleared by the Special Fraud Unit, Nepal’s issue with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is closed out. In fact, the company now has a depot at Ogara, the PPPPRA team inspected it and the depot was duly certified by the Department of Petroleum Resources, having met all the necessary requirements for depot operations. MRS was never indicted.
“So, all the companies that have been cleared by the SFU and EFFC that meet the requirements to participate in the Petroleum Subsidy Fund, which include being a registered Nigerian company, ownership of a certified and registered depot and a host of others, are free to participate (in importation).”
The PPPRA boss explained that the Federal Government had plugged all the leakages and avenues for corruption in the subsidy claims system, adding that the process had been fortified with the current tracking system introduced by the agency for monitoring fuel imports.
The Reuters report had indicated that large global trading houses such as Vitol, Mercuria and Trafigura had been left out in the latest import allocations, but Stanley said the foreign suppliers could not be part of the domestic supply programme because they were not registered Nigerian companies.
Information from Punch was used in this report.