The Nigerian government has succeeded in compelling the Chairman of Atlantic Energy Drilling Concepts Nigeria Limited, Jide Omokore, to cough out over $14m, being crude oil royalty which his company failed to remit to the federal treasury.
High ranking federal officials familiar with the development said that the funds were supposed to have been paid between 2011 and 2012 by Atlantic Energy which was, in controversial circumstances, awarded oil assets by the Goodluck Jonathan government shortly after it was incorporated in 2010.
The money was finally paid into the Federal Government’s account with JP Morgan Chase on January 29, after the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission waded into the matter of recovering taxes due to the Federal Government.
“The investigation of tax defaulters in the dollar-soaked oil industry is continuing,” a source at the EFCC said. “Those who failed to willingly pay up stand the risk of arrest and prosecution for tax fraud.”
Operatives of the EFCC had on January 27 questioned Mr. Omokore, an ally of former President Jonathan, in connection with a series of multi-billion dollar crude export deals. Mr. Omokore could not be reached for comments at the of filling this report. But his company recently issued a statement saying it was getting back on course after submitting its plan to settle outstanding financial commitments to the Nigerian authorities.
Incorporated as Atlantic Drilling Energy Concept Limited on July 19, 2010, it signed a Strategic Alliance Agreement with the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) shortly afterwards. The NPDC is the upstream production subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation. Under the agreement, Atlantic took charge of four oil blocks- OML 26 FHN, OML 30 Shoreline, OML 34 Niger-Delta Oil and OML 42 Neconde. It was to provide funds, technical services, drill and sell crude oil. The company was later accused of lifting crude oil, but remitting only a fraction of its worth to government.
In 2012, according to NNPC insiders, Atlantic Energy paid $168m into the government’s account, but lifted about three million barrels – valued at over $350 million. In 2013, it also lifted about two million barrels of crude valued at about $240million, but paid only $68million. Similarly, in 2014, Atlantic Energy paid zero cash-call, but lifted about 500,000 barrels of crude oil, valued at $54 million.
The EFCC recently raided the business premises of Mr. Omokore, making away with documents and computers. Mr. Omokore was later instructed by the presidency to reconcile his accounts with NPDC, and immediately pay up the several billions he is owing the Nigerian government for allegedly lifting crude without remitting the proceeds.