The Federal Ministry of Finance on Friday listed M.R.S. Oil and Gas Ltd, owned by billionaire businessman, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, and 20 others as those under investigation for alleged fuel subsidy fraud.
This was contained in a statement issued by the Special Assistant to the Finance Minister on Media, Mr. Paul Nwabuikwu.
The statement said the firms were being investigated based on the report of the Presidential Committee on Fuel Subsidy Payments headed by the Managing Director and CEO of Access Bank Plc., Mr. Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede.
The companies are Alminnur Resources Ltd, Brilla Energy Ltd, Caades Oil and Gas Ltd, Capital Oil and Gas Industry Ltd, Connoil Plc, Downstream Energy Source Ltd., and Eterna Plc.
Others are Euraafric Oil and Gas Ltd, Lumen Skies Ltd, Majope Investment Ltd, Matrix Energy Ltd, Menon Oil and Gas Ltd, Mob International Services and M.R.S. Oil and Gas Ltd.
The rest include Nasaman Oil Services Ltd, Natacel Petroleum Ltd, Ocean Energy Trading and Services, Pinnacle Contractors Ltd, Sifax Oil and Gas Company, Tonique Oil Services Ltd and Top Oil and Gas Development Co. Ltd.
The statement noted that the Aig-Imoukhuede committee’s report recommended that these firms should refund various sums to the Federal Government’s treasury.
Also, the statement listed a second group of companies with infractions considered by the government and Aig-Imoukhuede-led committee as “relatively minor.”
According to the statement, these categories of companies are in discussion with government for a quick resolution of their issues.
It gave conditions in which government was prepared to settle their claims.
“For oil marketers under investigation for possible refunds to the government, their 2012 outstanding claims will be netted out against their expected refunds to government.
“For those with a positive net balance, that is outstanding claims greater than expected refunds will be processed and paid,” the statement said.
Also, the statement said for marketers that owed government more in refunds than government owes them, the Aig-Imoukhuede committee would accelerate review of their documents after the Eid-el- Fitr public holidays.
It assured Nigerians that claims for marketers in this category would be processed and settled, if cleared, without further delay after the public holiday.
“For others that may not be in the above categories but who have other issues or claims, their claims will also be addressed with the same dispatch,” the statement added.
The statement also reiterated that the ministry was not responsible for the looming fuel supply shortage in Abuja and environs caused by the oil marketers strike over delayed payment of subsidy claims.
“ It is clear that those behind the strikes are marketers being investigated. These elements have now resorted to hiding behind the unions to unnecessarily antagonise government and create hardship for Nigerians.
“We want to make it clear that government will fully investigate their activities and if found guilty, bring them to book and recover all public funds fraudulently obtained, in the guise of fuel subsidy claims.
“No degree of blackmail will stop the government from doing its work. Government will, therefore, pursue justice and ensure that those who are found guilty are appropriately sanctioned,” it said.
The statement reaffirmed that between April and August, the Sovereign Debt Notes amounting to N42.66 billion were issued to 31 oil marketers, in respect of the 2012 fuel subsidy claims.
“These are incontrovertible facts which confirm government’s commitment to ensuring that issues concerning genuine marketers with legitimate claims are dealt with expeditiously,” it added.