Lagos - Two oil marketers -- Oluwaseun Ogunbambo and Habila Theck -- on Friday denied that the Federal Government paid their company, Fargo Petroleum and Gas Ltd., N976.6 million as Petroleum Support Fund (PSF).
The marketers made the denial through their counsel, Mr Adebayo Adenipekun (SAN), at the commencement of their substantive trial before Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo of an Ikeja High Court.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the defendants are among the 17 oil marketers being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission over PSF (fuel subsidy) theft.
Adenipekun while cross-examining Mr Wale Adamolekun, the General Manager (Operations), Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), said that the company did not receive any subsidy payment.
"I put it to you that Fargo has not received the N976.6 million subsidy payment from the Federal Government as being alleged by the EFCC," he said.
The defence counsel said his clients had to submit about 45 documents to the PPPRA for verification before they could access the PSF.
He noted that six agencies would have verified the Shore Tank Certificate of the transaction before it would get to the PPPRA.
Adenipekun said: "Without the Sovereign Debt Statement (SDS) issued by the PPPRA, the Ministry of Finance and its auditors will not entertain any request from an oil marketer.
"So it is the duty of the PPPRA to truthfully and diligently verify these documents," he said.
Earlier in his evidence- in- chief, Adamolekun, the first prosecution witness, said that the PSF was set up by the government in 2006 to help in moderating the prices of petroleum products.
Adamolekun submitted that a vigorous process of verification was usually carried out by the PPPRA and other agencies before any payment was made by the Central Bank of Nigeria to oil marketers.
He said that Fargo was one of the companies given permission to participate in the scheme but said he was not aware whether the company received the N976.7 million subsidy payment or not.
NAN reports that the EFCC had on July 30, arraigned the defendants on a six-count charge of conspiracy, obtaining money by false pretence, forgery and use of false documents.
They, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge, and were granted bail.
EFCC counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), alleged that the defendants had on Feb. 10, fraudulently obtained the money from the Federal Government.
He said that the defendants falsely claimed that the money represented subsidy accrued to them from the importation of 13,627,084 litres of Premium Motor Spirit (petrol).
The prosecutor said that the PMS was purportedly purchased from one Seatac Petroleum Ltd. and imported into Nigeria through a ship -- MT Diplomat Ex MT Milleura.
He further claimed that the defendants on Oct. 14 in Lagos forged a document entitled Certificate of Origin, Port of Loading Antwerp, Belgium, so as to facilitate their obtaining the aforesaid amount.
Jacobs added that the defendants falsely claimed that the document was issued by Seatac Petroleum Ltd.
According to him, the offences contravened Sections 1, (sub-sections 1,2,3) and Section 8 of the Advanced Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria. (NAN)