The Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property says an oil giant, Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited (ExxonMobil), is indebted to the Federal Government to the tune of $1.6bn.
According to the panel, which is led by Okoi Obono-Obla, the money represents the balance of the renewal fee of $2.5bn (N900bn) for three oil blocks, Oil Mining Leases 67, 68 and 70, which the company has allegedly refused to pay since 2009.
The panel wrote a letter addressed to Mobil’s Managing Director at Mobil House, Victoria Island, Lagos, giving the company three weeks to pay the alleged outstanding balance of $1.9bn to the Federation Account.
It reads in part, “In 2009, Mobil Producing, instead of liquidating the $2.5bn, elected to pay only $600m into the Federation Account.
“By this letter, you are required within three weeks of the receipt of this letter to show cause why Mobil Producing should not be subjected to a criminal investigation by your failure to pay the outstanding balance of $1.9bn into the Federation Account thereby contributing to the economic adversity of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
The panel’s chairman, said the investigation into the indebtedness was ignited by a petition by human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN).
Obono-Obla says the SPIP plans to report the company to the government of the United States of America.
“USA has a law known as Foreign Corrupt Practices Act 1977 which prohibits American companies doing business abroad from indulging in corrupt practices; the panel shall lodge a complaint against Mobil to the USA government. “USA will open a criminal investigation against Mobil for economic sabotage against the Federal Government of Nigeria.”
Meanwhile, ExxonMobil has denied the alleged indebtedness.