A Federal High Court, Lagos has adjourned hearing in the $406.8 million suit filed by the Federal Government against Shell Western Supply & Trading Limited over crude oil shipment to November 15.
The case has Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited and its subsidiary, Shell Western Supply & Trading Limited as defendants. The matter was adjourned following the absence of the trial judge, Mojisola Olatoregun, who was said to be attending a conference in Abuja.
Similarly, a sister suit before the same court involving the government and Agip, slated for yesterday, was also adjourned to November 15 for hearing.
In the suit, the government is claiming the sum of $406.8 million from the defendants, representing the shortfall of money paid into its account with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The money was said to be for crude oil lifted between 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 the discovery followed a forensic analysis of bills of laden and shipping documents, adding that Shell cheated the nation.
According to the affidavit, the consortium of experts tracked the global movements of the country’s hydrocarbons, including crude oil and gas.
They identified the companies engaged in the practices that led to missing revenues from crude oil and gas export sales to different parts of the world.The experts also revealed discrepancies in the export records from Nigeria with the import records at U.S. ports.
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.
The defendants were said to have failed to respond to a Federal Government letter through its legal representative, seeking clarification on the discrepancies.
The plaintiff is, therefore, seeking a court order to compel the two companies to pay $406.8 million, being the total value of the missing revenue and interest payment at 21 per cent yearly, among other prayers.