One assignment the new acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu, an Assistant Commissioner of Police is said to be giving all the attention it deserves at the moment is the probe of Aiteo boss, Benny Peters.
Peters, an indigene of Delta State in Nigeria, is at the centre of record monumental and criminal frauds he and many other allies of the former petroleum minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke allegedly perpetrated in the oil and gas industry.
According to reliable sources, who reeled out the alleged fraud and theft committed by Benny Peters and his partners, the 45-year-old might be worth a minimum of N400 Billion as it was revealed that he had a field day in the oil sector, while the government of former president Goodluck Jonathan lasted.
It was alleged further that the likes of Benny Peters were fond of lifting more than the approved barrels of crude oil from Nigeria only to give false record of what was actually lifted in connivance with some highly placed government officials.
“They could be asked to lift 100 barrels of crude oil for instance, but they would lift about 200 or 300 barrels and the excess would be their own gain as it would be recorded that they lifted only 100 barrels after they must have bribed officials of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
“They were also involved in crude oil Swap as they would lift crude oil from Nigeria with the belief that they wanted to go and refine it abroad and bring the finished products to the country, but that was never the case. What they did was to sell the crude oil and go to a country like Ivory Coast to import cheap kerosene and petroleum products, and they made as much as $15 million from only one transaction. But they usually give some senior government officials part of the proceeds,” said our sources.
Benny, who is reportedly married to an American, is said to have a 3-storey building of about 42 flats in each floor in the United States of America.
We were reliably told that his house in a choice area in Maryland, USA is one of the most expensive, and even more expensive than that of former president Atiku Abubakar, who reportedly has a house in the area.
A graduate of Geography and Regional Planning from University of Benin, Benny cut his teeth at Aliko Dangote’s cousin, Sayyu Dantata’s company, MRS Oil.
Sources said that he later ran the show when he founded Sigmund Communecci in 1999 after he left MRS Oil but was let down by his limited managerial ability and had to close shop because of financial debt.
But the Sigmund Communecci’s experience allegedly came handy as it made the owner an unscrupulous businessman. With a net worth estimated at $2.7 billion, in 2014, he joined Africa’s billionaires’ list.
However, he grew rich by allegedly involving in shady deals. His company, Aiteo, was involved in all the major undercover moves in the oil industry that led to serious reduction in Nigeria’s oil revenue.
The federal government under the leadership of ex-President Goodluck Jonatha set up a15-man Presidential Panel headed by Access Bank former MD, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede to probe the fuel subsidy administration, and 25 oil marketing firms including Aiteco were reportedly indicted for various infraction.
In all, Aiteco has been prominent feature of all high-level frauds perpetrated by ex-petroleum minister Diezani Alison-Madueke and her cronies while the former was in office.
It is worth mentioning that the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) allocated larger volume of fuel importation to Aiteco despite that it was apparent the company has few filling stations across the country.
Sometime in 2014, in a deal that fell far short of the requirement of the bureau of public enterprise, the company acquired 85 percent stake in OML 29, one of the biggest onshore oil blocks from Shell Nigeria for $2.56 billion.
The block is believed to have around 2.2 billion barrels of oil and 300 million standard cubic feet of gas.
Despite the economic loss the country incurred due to the crooked sale of the oil block, the government under Jonathan gave tax holiday that is hard to justify to Aiteo, thereby denying government of substantial revenue.
Equipments that are used for oil exploration such as drill bits, drilling pipe, drilling motors, derricks, valves, portable rigs, among others, were imported by Aiteco without paying duty due to the inappropriate relief.
The House of Representatives has since begun a fresh probe of the Refined Product Exchange Agreement contracts between the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and various trading companies.
Also known as SWAP, the scheme involved the exchange of crude oil for refined petroleum products in which the NNPC gave out 445,000 barrels of crude per day to nine companies through the Pipelines Product Marketing Company, a subsidiary of the NNPC.
Those nine companies, which included Aiteco after taken the crude oil out of the country, most times usually returned empty handed without the refined products.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) recently began investigation into the SWAP deal and has cast its investigatory net wide.
We gathered that Aiteco’s owner, Benny Peters in recent times, has been a regular visitor to the anti-graft agency office in Abuja where he is facing questions for his inglorious role in the SWAP fraud.
President Muhammadu Buhari, after a recent meeting with state governors in Abuja, reiterated his commitment to fight corruption, which was his main pledge during his campaign.
The President in the statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media, Mr. Femi Adeshina bemoaned the rot in the oil sector that is responsible for the country’s decline economic fortune while assuring Nigerians of positive change.
He said, “The next three months may be hard, but billions of dollars can be recovered, and we will do our best.”
If President Buhari carries out his threat to bring to book corrupt government officials and oil profiteers, Benny Peters may find himself behind bar for allegedly stealing Nigerians blind.
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