The money Nigeria’s EFCC is charging and being said to have been laundered was the initial contractual payments by Shell Petroleum Development Company SPDC to Forstech Technical Nigeria Limited on the instructions of Bayelsa State Government for the Processing of SPDC’s building permit for the Gbaran Ubie Project in Bayelsa State. SPDC is a Shell company in Nigeria.
For fairness, it is important to state that the Bayelsa State House of Assembly probed the permit scandal and found that Shell evaded N4b in taxes/levies to the BYSG and N3.6b processing fees to the consultant Forstech Technical. There is a House Resolution dated 31 Jan 2012 covering this probe.
The Attorney General and Government of Bayelsa State has in fact taken SPDC to Fed High Court Yenagoa in suit no. FHC/YNG/CS/25C/2012 to compel them to pay the balances and penalty of N10b having defaulted and refused to pay the demand notices of the Government. The matter is ongoing coming up on 28 June 2012.
Shell had built the $4.2b Plant on 2m sqm without building permit, a mandatory requirement, in contravention of the Petroleum act and the Urban and regional planning Act. While the Nigeria Oil Industry regulators DPR waived the contraventions, the Bayelsa state government insists on compliance.
The reason for EFCC’s failure to prosecute SPDC for tax evasion is unknown. The reason for charging all the expenses of Forstech in their normal course of business from their bank account as money laundering is yet unknown. Most intriguing is that EFCC recognises that the money being laundered was not illicitly obtained.
Nigeria’s money laundering act requires that the source of any laundered money must be illicit. From the nature of the charges, it appears that EFCC seems to be assisting SPDC to escape embarrassment of tax evasion by hoping to use this type of suit to subjudice the action of Bayelsa state government against SPDC. More worrisone is the fact that Nigeria’s EFCC should allow itself to be used. With the high prevalence of corruption in Nigeria, could this be an evolving EFCC-Gate? country’s President is from Bayelsa State.