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Court adjourns FG’s $406.7m debt recovery suit against Shell

A Federal High Court in Lagos on Wednesday adjourned until September  30, for continuation of trial in a debt recovery suit by the Federal Government against Shell Western Supply & Trading Ltd.

In the suit numbered FHC/L/CS/336/16 and filed by its counsel, Prof. Fabian Ajogwu (SAN), the government seeks to recover  406.7 million dollars allegedly deprived it through non declaration or under-declaration in crude oil shipment.

The suit pending before Justice Mojisola Olatoregun has as defendants, Shell Petroleum Development Company Nig. Ltd. and its subsidiary, Shell Western Supply & Trading Ltd.

When the case was called on Wednesday, Mr Ituah Imahnze appearing for the plaintiff, reminded  the court that the case was for continuation of trial.

Olatoregun, however, noted that the case which started in 2016 had taken too long.

She blamed the situation on counsel.

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She said she would adjourn the case until September  30, adding that it would be the only case before the court on that day.

In the suit, the Federal Government is claiming 406.7 million dollars from the defendants, representing shortfall of money they paid into the Federal Government’s account with the Central Bank of Nigeria.

The money was said to be for crude oil lifted in 2013 and 2014.

In a supporting affidavit, the government accused the Anglo-Dutch company of not declaring or under-declaring crude oil shipments during the period.

It said that the suit followed a forensic analysis of bills of laden and shipping documents.

The government alleged that Shell cheated the country of deserved revenue.

According to the plaintiff, the consortium of experts tracked the global movements of the country’s hydro-carbons, including crude oil and gas.

It said that the experts  identified the companies engaged in the practices that led to missing revenues from crude oil and gas export to different parts of the world.

The government said that the analysis also revealed discrepancies in the export records from Nigeria with the import records at U.S. ports.

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The plaintiff averred that the undeclared shipments between January 2013 and December 2014 brought the total value of the entire shortfall to 406.75 million dollars.

It claimed that the defendants  failed to respond to its  letter through its legal representative, seeking clarification regarding the discrepancies.

The government, therefore, seeks a court order to compel the two companies to pay 406.7 million dollars, being total value of alleged missing revenue and interest payable at 21 per cent per annum.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the government has also taken  similar actions  against Chevron and Total.

It asked for a total of 12.7 billion dollars over alleged non-declaration of 57 million barrels of crude shipped to the U.S. between 2011 and 2014.

The oil companies are among 15 oil majors targeted by the government for the recovery of over 17 billion dollars in deprived revenue. (NAN)