Abuja - The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) had not accounted for more than $50 billion (R500bn) in revenue from the sale of crude oil, which should have been paid into state accounts under law, the central bank has said.
Central Bank of Nigeria governor Lamido Sanusi said in a letter to President Goodluck Jonathan that the NNPC earned $65.3bn from crude oil sales between January 2012 and July this year but remitted only 24 percent of this to the federation account. Sanusi said $49.8bn was still outstanding.
“I am constrained to formally write your Excellency, documenting serious concerns of the Central Bank of Nigeria on the continued failure of the NNPC to repatriate significant proportions of the proceeds of crude oil shipments it made in gross violation of the law,” the letter said.
Reuters has seen the letter of September 25 and bank sources confirmed it was genuine.
In recent years, several investigations have criticised the NNPC for a lack of transparency and for diverting funds. But the bank governor appears to be one of the most high-profile figures to have raised the issue with Jonathan.
The central bank’s spokesman said he could not comment on private correspondence and Sanusi did not respond when contacted. A senior source at the presidency said Jonathan had asked the head of the state-owned NNPC to give him an explanation. The presidency spokesman did not respond.
On Tuesday, the NNPC said: “The allegation is born out of misunderstanding of the workings of the oil and gas industry and the modality for remitting crude oil sales revenue into the federation account.”
The NNPC said it had remitted its oil sale proceeds. The missing funds should have come from government departments responsible for petrol tax and royalties, while other funds would have been spent on field development.
Making a distinction between the missing money and taxes, Sanusi’s letter said the missing $49.8bn was from the value of oil the NNPC had sold. Under law, the NNPC must submit all oil export proceeds.
“As an indicator of how bad this situation has become, please note that in 2012 alone, the federation account received $28.51bn in petroleum profits and related taxes but only $10.31bn from crude oil proceeds,” the letter said.
The NNPC sold 46 percent of Nigeria’s oil between January last year and July this year, but remittances amounted to a third of the taxes paid by oil companies that exported the other 54 percent, the letter said.
A report in 2011 by Transparency International and Revenue Watch found the NNPC to have the poorest transparency record out of 44 national and international energy companies it evaluated.