Update on the Allegation of $10.8 Billion Tax Evasion Fraud against Chevron and its Associated Companies 1
On 1st July, 2005, ABZ Integrated Limited, a Nigerian company based in Abuja broke the news of the $10.8 billion tax evasion and fraud by the Nigerian branch of the Chevron Corporation (NYSE: CVX Euronext: CHTEX), an American multinational energy corporation headquartered in San Ramon, California, (see annexure 1b).
Following the disclosures, ABZ was duly engaged by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of Nigeria under the Executive Chairmanship of Mallam Nuhu Ribadu (see annexure 1a) as a consultant for the recovery of the unpaid taxes from Chevron Nigeria Limited. The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) under Dr. (Mrs.) Obiageli Ezekwesili acknowledged the engagement and financial entitlement of ABZ Integrated Limited (see annexure 5b).
In the last quarter of 2005, the House Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream), under the chairmanship of Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, had a public hearing on the allegation of $10.8 billion tax evasion and fraud against Chevron Nigeria Limited. And in September 2006, the Chairman vindicated ABZ and confirmed that Chevron evaded tax as alleged and was ordered to refund the sum of $492 million. NEITI’s auditors also validated the claims of ABZ. But Chevron has only refunded a fraction of the total Petroleum Profit Tax (PPT) evaded, without paying the penalties required by PPT Act. And ABZ has not been paid its entitlements since Chevron has refunded the sum of $866 million of the Petroleum Profit Tax (PPT) evaded so far.
This is the untold story of the whole financial scandal as reported by Fidelis Uzonwanne, the Managing Consultant of ABZ Integrated Limited.
~ Nigerians Report
UPDATE ON THE ALLEGATION OF $10.8 BILLION TAX EVASION AND FRAUD AGAINST CHEVRON AND ITS ASSOCIATED COMPANIES BY ABZ INTEGRATED LTD
THE UNTOLD STORY
In July 2005, when ThisDay Newspaper published ABZ Integrated Ltd’s open letter to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, on the allegation of $10.8 Billion tax evasion and fraud against Chevron Nigeria Ltd, some Nigerians believed it. Some took it with a pinch of salt. While some dismissed it with utmost disbelief.
Before ABZ took that bold step, an in-dept investigation of the activities of Chevron had been painstakingly undertaken. This culminated in a 106 –page report being forwarded to EFCC on the 12th of May 2005, with over 400 page annexures (Annexure 4).
The way and manner the relevant government agencies in Nigeria reacted to the issue was very shocking and unbelievable. Organizations such as the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and its subsidiary NAPIMS, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) etc, stood in stout defense of Chevron’s position and treated ABZ with disdain and scorn. We were undaunted because we were very sure of what we stated and were prepared to defend it till the last day.
Following our publication, the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), under the chairmanship of Dr. (Mrs.) Obiageli Ezekwesili, held a meeting of stakeholders in Nicon Hotel on the 9th of August 2005. NEITI issued a press release (Annexure 5a) on the outcome of the meeting confirming inter alia:
(i) That ABZ was duly engaged as consultants by EFCC and that ABZ’s effort led to the recovery of $6.5 million
(ii) That the information provided by ABZ (i.e. the report) has been referred to the Hart Group to verify the claims made therein.
Other confirmations of ABZ’s efforts and entitlements are enclosed herewith as (Annexures 5b, c, d & e).
Recall that field work on the ABZ’s investigation of Chevron under EFCC Committee on Government Revenue Fraud was done between December 2003 and January 2005. FIRS and other Government agencies were answering questions on their respective roles relating to Chevron’s operations and their culpability thereon (Annexures 6a, 6b, 6c & 7a, 7b).
Between September and November 2005, the House Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream), under the chairmanship of Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, carried out a public hearing on the allegation of $10.8 billion tax evasion and fraud against Chevron. About September 2006, the report of the Committee’s investigation was laid before the plenary. The chairman in a press conference confirmed to the whole world that indeed Chevron evaded tax as alleged and was ordered to refund the sum of $492 million (Annexure 8).
On November 9, 2006, Segun Adeniyi, a former Editor of ThisDay Newspaper, Spokesperson to President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, and then a member of the National Stakeholders Working Group (NSWG) of NEITI, confirmed to the whole world that ABZ had been vindicated because NEITI’s auditors had confirmed to them the veracity of ABZ’s claims (Annexure 9a). Please find enclosed an except from Hart Group report dated 14th August, 2006 for more details (Annexure 9b).
We want to confirm to you that the harassment Ribadu’s EFCC was giving to ABZ in 2005 was merely a decoy to shield the main issues from people’s prying eyes. This dummy sold by Ribadu’s EFCC enabled the trio of FIRS, Chevron and EFCC to conceal the recoveries being realized from Chevron through ABZ’s effort. Recent events have confirmed that the maneuvers were intended to enable them dip their fingers into the official tills. Their campaign then was that ABZ was making false claims, that Chevron never evaded tax and no money was refunded. Unknown to so many people was the fact that as at that time (July 2005), Chevron had refunded over $130 million and part of it diverted.
By a letter dated 6th October 2008, the Executive Chairman of FIRS, Mrs. Ifueko Omouigui-Okauru, in response to Nigeria’s House of Representative’s Ad-hoc Committee’s inquest, claimed that the sum of $131 million had been recovered from Chevron but that it was not from ABZ’s effort (Annexure 10). At the time of this claim (i.e. October 2008), ABZ, through its own information network was aware that Chevron had refunded $491 million (Annexure 11). ABZ, through its Solicitors, Messrs Fountain Advocates, petitioned Farida’s EFCC, alleging a diversion of $360 million. The petition was dated 17th November, 2008, with all the necessary attachments including bank statements treasury receipts, correspondences from Chevron (Annexures 12a, b, & c). Two reminders dated 12th January 2009 and 14th January 2010 have been sent to Farida’s EFCC and mum is the answer (Annexures 13 & 14).
As at December 2008, Chevron had refunded the sum of $866 million of the Petroleum Profit Tax (PPT) evaded (Annexure 15). The relevant penalties based on the provisions of PPT Act is three times the tax evaded i.e. $2.598 billion (Annexure 16). FIRS has no choice than to abide by the law. There’s no evidence that FIRS is prepared to make this demand on Chevron. Besides, ABZ is still willing and prepared to provide a report that will turn in additional recoveries of $2.0 billion from Chevron.
As at today, ABZ has not been paid its fees for this assignment. Instead, FIRS and Chevron have been busy plotting how to silence ABZ. One way they thought they could achieve this was to encourage Chevron to seek ICAN’s (The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria) support to “deal” with the Managing Consultant of ABZ. Chevron petitioned ICAN that ABZ’s report was baseless, unprofessional and that Fidelis Uzonwanne, the Managing Consultant of ABZ, should be charged with professional misconduct. The company represented to ICAN that it never refunded any tax evaded (Annexure 17a, b & c). This is contrary to its various letters evidencing refunds e.g. letters of January 24, 2005, November 29, 2005 and receipts obtained (Annexures 17d, e, f & g). True to type, ICAN set to work through malicious advertisement of the fact that Fidelis Uzonwanne was facing ICAN investigating Panel without first writing him as a member. He is currently facing trial at Disciplinary Tribunal for exposing corruption and helping his country to recover $866 million of lost revenue (Annexures 18a, b & c). That is the sorry state of the Nigerian Nation.
Over $400 million out of the $866 million recovered from Chevron through ABZ’s effort has been diverted by FIRS and their collaborators in CBN (Annexures 19 & 20). Farida’s EFCC does not appear prepared to bring the criminals to book despite all the information made available to it (Annexures 21a, b & c). See Annexure 25 for more details on diverted funds. Instead, the conspirators have vowed not to pay ABZ its dues and will prefer the option of eliminating Fidelis Uzonwanne by any means. Yes, the plot to assassinate Fidelis Uzonwanne is thickening and he is aware of it. What is his offence? He led a team that exposed tax evasion and fraud perpetrated by Chevron. The first process of his annihilation is through financial strangulation by denying his company its dues. The next in the chain is to make sure he stops practicing his profession by using forged documents, falsehood and undue influence to get ICAN do its bidding. The final is assassination.
Please ventilate this to the whole world. The Nigerian economy is seriously being threatened by the cabal in government revenue agencies, who have vowed not to allow any of their own go down no matter how corrupt. The anti-corruption crusade is at its lowest ebb. Nigeria’s economic future is getting dimmer with every passing day. The Executive Chairman of FIRS, who supervised and managed the looting of the money recovered from Chevron in a letter with reference no FIRSB/MD/001/130 of 4th February, 2009 requested CBN, its accomplice, to give her a clean “bill of health”. CBN, by its letter dated 12th February 2009, with reference no. FOD/DIR/GA/SEC/012/68, acted accordingly (Annexure 22). The duo made a fruitless attempt to conceal a diversion of $112 million. ABZ, by its letter of 2nd December, 2009, knocked the bottom off the unwholesome arrangement (Annexure 23). The same goes for the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation (OAGF) (Annexure 24). It set up a committee to investigate the allegation of fraudulent diversion of $360 million, concluded its investigation and attempted to give Ifueko a clean “bill of health” without inviting the company that made the allegation (Annexure 25). Although the OAGF confirmed a diversion of $8.6 million, those indicted are still sitting comfortably on their seats and using tax payers’ money to campaign and launder their image.
Like all other financial scandals that have rocked Nigeria, this would have fizzled out long time ago but because of the plan of the treasury looters to “kill the goose that lays the golden egg”. If the same Chevron project had been awarded to a foreign firm, the Federal Government would have easily parted with hundreds of millions of Dollars as professional fees with the perquisites attached thereto. Believe it or not, no foreign company would have been able to match ABZ’s achievements. After ABZ’s investigation of Chevron what happened next? Other oil companies are still enjoying their illicit funds.
Since the exit of Dr. (Mrs.) Obiageli Ezekwesili from NEITI, the agency has since joined the band wagon of other government agencies who are more interested in budgetary allocations than performing the role for which they were established. ABZ by a letter dated 20th April, 2009, alerted the organization of several issues that it should ordinarily make effort to know (Annexure 26). The organization never even bordered to respond. The reason is very simple. The Executive Chairman of FIRS, Mrs. Ifueko Omouigui-Okauru has pocketed the organization and has ensured no further audits are carried out especially 2006 audit of the oil & gas industry in Nigeria, because of the unprecedented fraud by FIRS that year. The Nation lost over $3 billion of PPT and Royalty revenue to fraud.
By Fidelis Uzonwanne
Managing Consultant of ABZ Integrated Limited,
ALL THE REMAINING DOCUMENTS ON THIS CASE WILL BE PUBLISHED IN THE FOLLOWING DAYS OF THE FIRST WEEK OF APRIL.