Alleged $406.7m Crude Oil Theft: Judge Grants FG Leave To Amend Claims Against Shell
Justice Mojisola Olatoregun of the Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday granted leave to the Federal Government to amend its statement of claim in a $406.7m suit instituted against Shell Petroleum Development Company Nig. Ltd and its subsidiary, Shell Western Supply and Trading Ltd.
Justice Olatoregun granted the permission after lawyer to the government Ituah Imhanze informed the court of the motion to amend its statement of claim which was not opposed to by the defendants.
The government had dragged the multinational oil company to court alleging that its under-declared the volume of crude oil its shipped out of Nigeria between January 2011 and December 2014, and not paying due remittance to the federal government.
At the resumed hearing of the matter on Monday, Imhanze, urged the court to grant his application to amend the statement of claim, and allow the plaintiff leave to tidy its pleadings.
This application for amendment was not opposed by the defence.
In a short ruling, Justice Olatoregun granted the application, but noted that there had been no remarkable progress in the suit since it was filed, other than amendments.
She, however, fixed May 31 and June 1 for hearing, adding that the plaintiff must ensure it served all amended processes on the defence.
In a supporting affidavit attached to the suit, the FG had accused the Anglo-Dutch company of not declaring or under-declaring crude oil shipments during the period.
It said that this was following forensic analysis of bills of laden and shipping documents, adding that Shell cheated Nigeria of the revenue.
According to the affidavit, the consortium of experts tracked the global movements of the country’s hydro-carbons, 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.
They also revealed discrepancies in the export records from Nigeria with the import records at U.S. ports.
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.
The defendants were said to have failed to respond to a Federal Government letter through its legal representative, seeking clarification as to the discrepancies.
The Federal Government is therefore, seeking a court order to compel the two companies to pay 406.8 million dollars, being the total value of the missing revenue and interest payment at 21 percent per annum.
In addition, the government is also asking Shell to pay general exemplary damages in the sum of 406.75 million dollars as well as the cost of the legal action.
The Federal government had also sued Chevron, Total and Agip, in a similar case before the court.
The FG is asking 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 17 billion dollars