MISSING $20 BILLION: Forensic auditors to the Rescue

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Any moment from now, the Federal Government of Nigeria will engage the services of  independent forensic auditors to examine the books of the  Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC. This is  with a view to to futher determining the veracity or otherwise of the claim that the corporation had failed to remit oil revenues to the Federation Account, as alleged by the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria Minister of Finance disclosed this at a press briefing in Abuja, on thursday, after appearing before the Senate Committee on Finance which is investigating the alleged unremitted fund. At a public hearing in the Senate last week, the CBN Governor revealed that records available to the bank showed that the total amount generated from crude oil sales was $67.8 billion while records of remittance to the Federation Account by the NNPC was $47.8 billion with a deficit of $20 billion not accounted for.

Mr. Sanusi, who also appeared before the committee was, however, not convinced by the explanations put forward by both the NNPC and the Finance Minister and insisted that $20b was missing. At the committee hearing last Thursday, the Minister of Finance said going by the controversy that had surrounded the remittance of the subsidy fund, there was the need for external auditors to carry out a forensic auditing of NNPC account on the issue.

Iweala  said the services of forensic experts were needed to verify data submitted by NNPC which the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency, PPPRA had certified to ascertain whether the claim was true or not as  the PPPRA and the ministry of finance alone cannot establish the veracity of the claim.

She affirmed , “Our judgment is that a proper examination of these documents requires technical expertise beyond the capacity of the reconciliation team and, therefore, we believe we should have an independent forensic audit, managed independently of these submissions”, “We have decided to let the forensic auditors examine the accounts (of the NNPC) and let Nigerians fully know what is going on.

Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke  answering questions from journalists, after an investigative hearing by the Senate committee on Finance on alleged unremitted oil revenue, at the National Assembly, in Abuja,responded that this kind of forensic audit requires experts who have some knowledge of the petroleum industry because it is very specialized. Since what the NNPC submitted was a mountain of documents on shipping, loading, and all that.

By Lawrence Etim

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