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

As US Strikes Syria, China Sees Parallels at Home

Beijing is debating how much support to give international coalition against IS militants and trying to figure out how many Chinese nationals may have joined group overseas More

CDC: Ebola Could Infect 1.4 M by 2015

US health officials say if efforts to curb the outbreak are not increased, cases will soar dramatically by early next year More

Video USAID Provides $231 Million for Girls Education in 5 Countries

US Agency for International Development partners with celebrities to call attention to importance of education for girls worldwide 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.
NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbiti
X
September 22, 2014 9:20 PM
NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7768
JPY
USD
108.84
GBP
USD
0.6124
CAD
USD
1.0999
INR
USD
61.042

Rates may not be current.