News / Economy

Nigerian Lawmakers Investigate Swiss Traders in Oil Scam

FILE - An aerial view of the oil hub city Port Harcourt in Nigeria's Delta region.FILE - An aerial view of the oil hub city Port Harcourt in Nigeria's Delta region.
x
FILE - An aerial view of the oil hub city Port Harcourt in Nigeria's Delta region.
FILE - An aerial view of the oil hub city Port Harcourt in Nigeria's Delta region.
Heather Murdock
Nigerian lawmakers are launching an investigation into the oil industry after a financial watchdog group said Swiss traders may have been involved in what they called ‘‘one of the most massive frauds the African continent has experienced.’’ 

In January 2012 outraged Nigerian citizens took to the streets when fuel subsidies were cut and the price of gas and food skyrocketed.  The subsidy was eventually reinstated.

By then the public already knew that corrupt oil officials had stolen $6.8 billion worth of the money meant to pay for the subsidy between 2009 and 2011. 

Nearly two years later, the scandal lives on and the list of the people involved is still growing. 

The financial watchdog group Berne Declaration says Swiss commodities traders are major players in the oil business in Nigeria, the largest exporter in Africa.  Berne Declaration senior researcher Marc Gueniat says some of those traders may be involved in the scam.

“Swiss traders are delivering petroleum products to Nigerian importers who have absolutely no kind of credibility businesswise,” he said.

Oil companies with no credibility are well-documented in Nigeria.  When the $6.8 billion fraud was exposed, so were companies that neither import nor export any oil products at all but still get subsidy money.

Gueniat says Swiss traders are allowed to deal with officials or relatives of officials who may have access to public funds and a history of corruption.

“They are completely free to do business with such people, with such companies according to Swiss laws.  And this is a problem for us,” he said.

He says there is evidence Nigeria’s national petroleum company, known as the NNPC, has made shady deals with two of the world’s largest oil traders, Vitol Group and Trafigura, both based in Switzerland.

The NNPC denies the accusation, saying the report is “not only bogus but strewn with inaccurate and poorly researched data.”

Vitol Group and Trafigura also say the report is false, and that they have strict anti-corruption policies.

Nigerian lawmakers launched an investigation into the charges, saying they were both “alarmed” and “disturbed.”

If they are, in fact, happening, these deals rob the people of money meant for government activities, like building roads and schools, running hospitals, and securing the country.  Most of Nigeria’s national budget comes from oil sales.

But what is really going on, Gueniat says, is hard to say because the NNPC lacks transparency to the point where the company is almost “a state within a state.”

“This is one of the main problems regarding the oil industry in Nigeria.  For instance NNPC stopped publishing annual reports since 2005.  This is astonishing considering the importance this company has for the country,” he said.

The Berne Declaration report also says that in 2011, Swiss traders bought most of $8.7 billion worth of crude oil set aside for refineries that do not have the capacity to use all the oil they get.

Profits from those sales do not go to the government.  When asked why, the NNPC did not respond.

You May Like

Ukraine: Mysterious 'Roaming Tank' Reportedly Takes Aim at Smugglers

Ukraine's TV, print media, Facebook abuzz with reports a 'roaming tank' is on the loose, destroying vehicles of those involved in smuggling More

US Wildlife Service Begins Probe of Killing of Cecil the Lion

Minnesota man accused of killing beast is in hiding, has been asked to contact US officials; White House to review extradition petition More

Video Kerry Tour Will Cover Security, Iran Nuclear Deal

US secretary of state to visit 5 countries in the Middle East, South Asia in bid to strengthen economic and security ties, ease concerns over deal with Tehran More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Godwin from: Nigeria
November 20, 2013 11:42 AM
You can investigate it to the next decade and come up with nothing. But when an international group takes it up and conducts its investigation from outside the borders of Nigeria, then you will be sure to discover all the faults. We have had issues where the courts in the country cannot find evidence enough to convict a suspect in 103 count charges; whereas a court in England convicted same suspect from 3 count charges only. Here corruption is glorified to statecraft. At the end of the day nothing will be discovered, both the Nigerians and their foreign counterparts in the crime will even become richer because of the money that will exchange hands, even in the open.

It is not less often that we hear of scam and fraud, but at the end nothing is proved, nothing changes, instead the public fund suffers further incursion. The subsidy investigation that has been going on for the past two years has so far come up with nothing. Instead those assigned the job begin to flaunt wealth gotten overnight. Where did the sudden wealth come from? In Nigeria, only the poor commit crime and face the law, the rich hardly do any wrong, and if arraigned, always go acquitted, even though it is glaring they are guilty. Sometimes they raise the dust, but the settlement is done in their secret court - what the open court does is to declare them not guilty.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.9066
JPY
USD
123.75
GBP
USD
0.6394
CAD
USD
1.2954
INR
USD
63.904

Rates may not be current.