Whistle-blower, Senate clash over $4.9b fraud in Chevron

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The Senate clashed with a whistle-blower, Dr. George Uboh of the Panic Alert System over investigation into alleged fraud of $4.9 billion in Chevron Nigeria Limited.

Uboh had demanded in the letter submitted to the Red Chamber for the withdrawal of his petition before Senate Committee on Ethics and Privilege.
But the Senate in its resolution vowed to proceed with investigation despite withdrawal by the petitioner.‎

Presenting the report of the Committee,‎ the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, Senator Samuel Anyanwu, informed the lawmakers of Uboh’s letter to withdraw the petition.

Anyanwu explained that Uboh’s request came after both the petitioner and the Director of Finance of Chevron, J.U. Uwakwe, appeared before the committee to make presentations.
Uboh in the petition alleged that between 2001 and 2002, Chevron evaded tax to the tune of over $343 million through overbloating of its operational costs under Petroleum Profit Tax, using Carry Agreement with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation as a cover when such agreement never existed with the company.

“That Chevron Nigeria Limited recouped spurious loan of $235 million from the Nigeria Federation between 2002 and 2005 for overdue cash calls; that Chevron conspired with some oil producing companies, NNPC auditors and defrauded the Federation of Nigeria by over $3.6 billion by merely manipulating accounts and records which were also done under the umbrella of Carry Agreements,” Uboh said.‎

The report stated that the representative of Chevron, Uwakwe, had denied that the oil company recouped spurious loans from the NNPC or from any other entity.
“That Chevron Nigeria Limited received notice of assessment for Education Tax, Education Tas Gas and Gas Income tax and later made payment of $38,259,021 via Citibank on 28th August, 2006 for the three assessments,” it added.

Reacting to the withdrawal of the petition, Senator Dino Melaye said the Senate is not a Police Station where by somebody can submit a petition and later come back to withdraw it.‎
Melaye said: “The Senate is not a police station.
“You cannot petition the Senate and come back later to say you have withdrawn it.
“It is expected that before a petition comes to this Senate, due diligence must have been done.
“We are talking of almost $5 billion.”

Speaking in support of Melaye submission, ‎the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, demanded that the Committee should go ahead with the investigation whether the petitioner withdraws it or not.
According Ekweremadu:‎ “We are going to China and other places to borrow money.
“If we recover this, it will go a long way.”
In his ruling, ‎the Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, stated that the petition would be investigated by an adhoc committee.

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