*Addax in 5-year tax default, owing N700m

Two international oil companies operating in the country were Monday accused by the Federal Government of various levels of indebtedness to the nation and contributing to Nigeria’s economic woes.

The companies are US oil giant ExxonMobil and Addax Petroleum, a subsidiary of China’s Sinopec Group.

This was disclosed by the Special Presidential Investigative Panel on the Recovery of Public Property, SPIP, which said three other oil companies were under investigation for not paying taxes and royalties.

According to the chairman of the panel, Chief Okoi Obono-Obla, who spoke at a news conference in Abuja on the activities of the panel during the year, Mobil – a subsidiary of ExxonMobil – was indebted to the country to the tune of $1.9 billion while Addax owed N700 million in tax.

Chief Obono-Obla, who is also the Special Assistant to the President on Public Prosecution, said: “A lot of oil companies are contributing to the economic challenges facing the country, denying Nigeria of royalties and also evading taxes, money that would have been channeled to the development of the country.

“Working with the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) we discovered that Addax Petroleum has failed to pay tax for five years and so they are owing about N700 million. Then, thanks to a petition we received from Femi Falana, SAN, Mobil which purchased an oil bloc in 2001 for $2.5 billion dollars is yet to pay about $1.9 billion of that money to the government. We have commenced our investigations too”.

He did not give further details on the three other oil companies under investigation by the government for tax and royalties evasion.

Efforts last night to reach officials of both ExxonMobil and Addax for comments on this matter proved abortive.

Okono-Obla also revealed during the press briefing that the Federal Government had written the United Kingdom’s National Crime Commission to help in the probe of five senators, who owned properties in the UK and the British Virgin Islands.

Listing the affected five senators as Ike Ekweremadu, Stella Oduah, Hope Uzodinma, Albert Bassey Akpan and Peter Nwaoboshi, the special assistant to the president said: “The UK has passed a law that will also help us in Nigeria fight corruption and that is the ‘Unexplained Wealth Regulation’ which entails that if you have a property in the UK that is above $50, 000, you have to explain your source of wealth, and property here does not just mean a building but even jewelries.

“So, we have written the National Crime Authority in the UK asking them to investigate some Nigerian public officers who have property in the UK and the Virgin Islands”.

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