By GWG Staff
Officials of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC have saved Nigeria at least $125 million that an alleged international fraud syndicate had planned to pull off from the country.
The scheme reportedly involving some local collaborators of the international syndicate was to be pulled through an alleged 40 million barrels of crude alleged by the syndicate to have been stolen from Nigeria.
The syndicate working through their company, Samano Sa De Cv, led by Messrs. Ramirez and Mr Jose Salazar Tinajero had allegedly discovered the 40 million barrels of crude they claimed was stolen from Nigeria in 2015 and said to have been stored in China.
Following the advent of the present regime, the agents of the company approached the new government with the plea to help Nigeria recover the oil. For NNPC officials used to such repeated claims it was a normal tale.
Further reasons to doubt it was the huge amount which could be about one month of production which NNPC officials doubted was possible. It was even more doubtable given the fact that it was said to be in China, a country where oil deals are controlled by only four recognized companies.
The NNPC was said to have finally sent officials for an on the spot assessment which returned with the submission that there was nothing true in the claims of Samano, a fact that was presented to President Muhammadu Buhari.
NNPC officials were, however, said to be bothered by the continued claim by the company for compensation from Samano for supposedly helping Nigeria recover the non-existent oil haul.
Writing through its lawyers, Afe Babalola and Company, NNPC on Thursday declared thus:
- Notwithstanding the failure of SAMANO to produce verifiable evidence in support of its allegations, for completeness, relevant officials were mandated to pay an in-person visit to China and further investigate SAMANO’s claim.
- During this fact-finding trip to China, it was discovered that SAMANO’s claim was false as there were no48 Million Barrels of stolen Nigerian Crude Oil or any stolen Nigerian Crude Oil in any port, terminal or storage facility in China. It was also discovered that all the documents previously presented by SAMANO in support of its claims were not genuine. A report of this finding was issued by the Committee to Mr. President.
- Consequently, the Federal Government terminated all communications with SAMANO as it became apparent that its claim was a hoax.
- When SAMANO realized that the Federal Government was no longer interested in the non-existent stolen crude, it resorted to blackmail and intimidation of key officials of the Government. SAMANO threatened that it would publicize the fact that the non-existent crude had been recovered, sold and proceeds looted by senior government officials and other personalities when it knew this was absolute falsehood.
- SAMANO made several demands including the demand that it be paid the sum of $125,000,000:00 (One Hundred and Twenty-Five Million United States Dollars) by the government officials to prevent it from disclosing this false information to the public. This demand soon metamorphosed into harassment as SAMANO embarked on a mischievous exercise to embarrass the Federal Government of Nigeria on international media platforms and before several international institutions like the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) all in a calculated bid to blackmail the Federal Government of Nigeria and NNPC into paying it a significant amount of money as compensation.
- As a result of the constant harassment, NNPC was constrained to make a formal report to the Department of State Security (DSS) and Nigeria Police while other victims wrote petitions in respect of the same subject to the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation.
- After a thorough investigation by the Police and DSS and confessions by agents of SAMANO, it was discovered that the allegations of conspiracy, forgery, obtaining money by false pretence, blackmail and extortion were well-founded and that some of the fraudulent activities of one Mr Ramirez and Mr Jose Salazar Tinajero (both agents of SAMANO) constituted a threat to the national security of Nigeria.
- During its investigation, the Nigerian Police discovered that SAMANO is part of a notorious crime syndicate that habitually intimidates, blackmails, and defrauds government officials and other high-profile persons. For instance, it was discovered that Mr Ramirez, SAMANO’s representative, was indicted by the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Texas as the mastermind of a scheme leading to the loss of several millions of dollars through various mail and wire frauds between 2010 and 2013. The Police became aware that Mr Ramirez fled the United States of America and settled in Nigeria where he continued his criminal activities in conjunction with SAMANO and its Managing Director. There is a subsisting warrant issued by the United States Government for the arrest of Mr. Ramirez. His wife has been convicted in the United States for her role in a visa lottery scam he masterminded.
- NNPC is aware that this investigation led to the filing of Charge No.: FCT/HC/BU/CR/134/2019 between Federal Republic of Nigeria v. Marco Antonio Ramirez & 4 Others at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. Some of the offences in the charge are criminal conspiracy, forgery, extortion and attempt to obtain money by false pretence.
- NNPC also understands that Mr Ramirez and his cohorts are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for other unrelated offences at theHigh Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja in Charge No: FCT/HC/CR/147/2016 and the Federal High Court, Lagos in Charge No: ID/2763/2016.
- NNPC is convinced that the chameleonic posture of SAMANO as a potential buyer, then gratuitous informant and subsequently a whistle-blowerdemonstrates its desperation to hoodwink and defraud the Federal Republic of Nigeria by all means.
- In its latest correspondence to NNPC, SAMANO claims that it is entitled to compensation for supplying information on the missing crude oil pursuant to the Federal Government’s Whistle Blower Policy. However, the information (which has proved to be pure falsehood) forming the basis of this claim was furnished in 2015 whilst the Whistle-blowerPolicy of the Federal Government only commenced in December 2016.
- SAMANO also failed to follow due process or establish that the information it allegedly provided led to any recovery or that the information was disseminated through the proper channel -the Federal Ministry of Finance online portal or in writing to the Federal Ministry of Finance or the Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit Unit. SAMANO’s actions were contrary to the laid down policy of the government on whistleblowing. Indeed, SAMANO does not qualify as a whistle-blower under this policy, particularly as no benefit whatsoever was derived from the piece of falsehood it provided at the time.
In view of the foregoing, NNPC urges members of the public to disregard the publications sponsored by SAMANO. They are at best diversionary and in furtherance of its scheme to fleece Nigeria.SAMANO’sattempt to shift attention from the on-going criminal charges against its Managing Director and agents will not fly. NNPC has instructed Counsel to take appropriate legal actions against SAMANO and its officers for the injury done to the Corporation and its officials by the falsehoods peddled by SAMANO and its agents.