Damilola Oyedele in Abuja
The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) on Wednesday revealed that Amsterdam based Trafigura BV, owes the Federal Government $642.5 million taxes from the crude oil swap deal worth $24billion.
The House of Representatives adhoc committee investigating the swap deals heard that the figure accrued in taxes from 2010 ($613.7 million), 2011 ($2.7 million), 2012 ($2.5 million), 2013 ($2.4 million) and 2014 ($2.2 million) and other estimates of the FIRS.
The oil trading firm in four years lifted 12.5 million metric tonnes of crude oil, without paying any tax to the Nigerian government.
The FIRS also revealed that Duke Oil Company Incorporated, a subsidiary of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) owes the government $4.7 million in taxes owed from the commissions it made from sub-contracting its contract to three oil trading firms; Ontario Nigeria Ltd, Aiteo Energy Resource, and Talevares Nigeria Ltd.
Trafigura’s Managing Director (West Africa),Mr. James Juslin, who was absent yesterday, had insisted at an earlier session, that the firm is not required to pay tax, as it is a non-resident company.
But Director, FIRS, Mr. Olayemi Ajayi said Trafigura is required to pay tax to the Nigerian government.
“Resident or not, they must pay tax once income is derived from Nigeria. The law says profit shall be deemed to derive from Nigeria, once habitually transacting business in Nigeria, even if it does not have a fixed address in Nigeria…by implication, Nigeria is a trading point,” he said.
This is as the adhoc committee headed by Hon. Zakari Mohammed (Kwara APC) announced that it would take ‘appropriate action’ against the former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, who did not heed its summons to appear on Wednesday.
Madueke neither appeared nor did she send representation to the adhoc committee to explain her role in allegedly approving extension of contracts to Duke Oil and Trafigura without formal agreements.
The former MD of the Petroleum Pipelines Marketing Company (PPMC), Mr. Haruna Momoh was also absent.
“It is unfortunate that they turned down our invitation, anyone who knows them should tell them they are daring the parliament. We have taken note and we are going to take appropriate action,” Mohammed said.
The lawmaker, however did not elaborate on what form of appropriate action would be taken.
One Sulaiman Momoh, later told the committee that he is the younger brother to the former MD, who he said is absent due to illness.
Momoh said he had been directed by his elder brother to represent him.
He was however turned down by the committee who noted that the investigation is related to the older Momoh’s tenure at the PPMC.
Zakari said “This is the first time this is happening, that we are having this kind of situation. Tell him we are expecting him, we hope he gets well soon, but he needs to appear. We can take the documents he sent, but he has to defend them as the author.”
Popular lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana made a brief appearance at the hearing.