The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday invited and detained the Chief Executive Officer of Fenix Impex Nigeria Limited, Mr. Jarret Tenebe over an allegation that his company was involved in the sale of seized crude oil to Ghana’s Saltpond Platform, THISDAY has learnt.
THISDAY gathered that due to several threats by the EFCC to arrest his wife and children, the Fenix boss yesterday honoured the invitation by the agency which subsequently detained him.
Tenebe was accompanied to the Lagos office of EFCC by a lawyer and was yet to be released as at the time of going to press.
However, close associates of the businessman have described EFCC’s action as an act of intimidation as documents presented by Fenix indicate that the company has a valid contract with the federal government to evacuate products and sludges seized by the Nigerian Navy and the Joint Task Force (JTF) in the Niger Delta and Igbokoda areas.
Some of the documents presented by Fenix, which were sighted by THISDAY, were signed by Rear Admiral AI Oyagha, on behalf of the Chief of Naval Staff; Legal Adviser to the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Ibrahim Dikko, who signed on behalf of the minister; EFCC’s Director of Finance and Accounts, Buka Abba, who signed on behalf of the Chairman of the EFCC.
Fenix also presented an official receipt number 04898 dated February 8, 2013, which was issued to the company by the EFCC, acknowledging the receipt of N40 million as the part payment of sales of seized petroleum products vide GTBank advice of January 30, 2013.
The advice for the transfer of the money to the GTBank main branch at Area 3 Garki, Abuja in favour of the EFCC was issued via Zenith Bank Plc. "They want to make him a fall guy," said a source close to him.
The Wall Street Journal had reported that the United States government had launched investigation into crude oil shipments from Saltpond platform, a small oil facility off the coast of Ghana, due to strong suspicion that some of Nigerian stolen oil is exported through the facility.
The report quoted the majority owner of the platform, Lushann International Energy Corporation, a private company based in Houston, as acknowledging that some of the oil it loads into tankers comes from Nigeria but insisted that it purchases the crude legally from the EFCC, a charge which the anti-graft agency had denied.
Fenix was also accused in the report of selling confiscated crude oil to the Ghanaian facility.
The anti-graft agency had faulted claims by Lashann International Energy Corporation in the Wall Street Journal that it brought crude oil from the commission, challenging the company to provide evidence of the commission’s involvement.
EFCC Head of Media and Publicity, Wilson Uwujaren, said: “Let them bring the invoice” claiming they purchase the crude oil from EFCC.”
Uwujaren told THISDAY that the commission had already responded to the allegations and that the clarification had been made that at no time did the EFCC enter into sale of crude oil as it “is not an oil marketing company and could not have issued any invoice to any oil trader to lift confiscated crude oil from Nigeria.”
The owner of the facility in Ghana, Mr. Quincy in a telephone interview with THISDAY denied receiving a single drop of crude oil or LPFO from Fenix Impex.
Quincy said: “Even though we signed a contract with him two years ago but nothing has happened; nothing has been supplied. So, it baffles me to hear all these stories about stolen crude and all that. We are a legitimate business with nothing to hide. Some people came around from Nigeria looking for incriminating information; they couldn’t get what they wanted to hear and they left.
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