AITEO BOSS, BENNY PETERS MAY FACE JAIL TIME

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AITEO boss, Benny Peters may be on his way to jail owing to monumental and criminal frauds he and many other cronies of the former petroleum minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke perpetrated in the oil and gas industry.

President Muhammadu Buhari had last Monday after 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 media aide, 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 carried out his threat to bring to book corrupt government officials and oil profiteers, Benny Peters who owns top oil company, Aiteo Group may find himself behind bar for stealing Nigerians blind.

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 not playing by the rules. His company, Aiteo, was involved in all the major shenanigans in the oil industry that led to the shortfall in Nigeria’s oil revenue.

The company’s name stuck out like a sore thumb in the oil subsidy scam where unscrupulous marketers fleeced the nation of billions of naira without supplying a drop of petrol.

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 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 meager filling stations across the country.

Sometime in 2014, in a hushed deal that fell far short of the requirement of the bureau of public enterprise, the company acquired 85percent 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.

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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.

Last Wednesday, the House of Representatives ordered 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.

OrijoReporter gathered that Aiteco’s owner, Benny Peters in recent time, 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.

Efforts by our reporter to speak with the Aiteco boss on the imminent danger of being jailed were futile after he failed to pick his calls or reply to text message sent to his mobile phone.

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