Nigeria Can Account for Suspected Missing $50 Billion Income

Nigeria can account for $49.8 billion in oil revenue suspected to have been withheld by the state-owned oil company, Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said.

“There are some misconceptions and misunderstandings that led to this number,” Okonjo-Iweala told reporters today in the capital, Abuja at a joint press briefing with central bank Governor Lamido Sanusi and Petroleum Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke. “We have been able to come to the conclusion that we can account for this amount.”

Sanusi confirmed he had written to President Goodluck Jonathan to ask for an investigation of the country’s oil accounts as reported in newspaper leaks last week. Nigeria is Africa’s biggest oil producer and crude exports account for about 80 percent of all government revenue.

Out of the funds the central bank thought were withheld by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp., or NNPC, $24 billion represented taxes and royalties already paid by oil companies, Sanusi said.

“That explains half of the $50 billion,” he said “There’s a shortfall of $12 billion, and we’re told that the shortfall has always been part of an ongoing discussion with the finance and petroleum ministries.”

While the NNPC acknowledged a shortfall, it disputes the size and explains them as “subsidy claims, unrecovered crude, product losses and the cost of strategic petroleum storage,” according to a statement handed reporters today by the Finance Ministry.

To contact the reporter on this story: Elisha Bala-Gbogbo in Abuja at ebalagbogbo@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dulue Mbachu at dmbachu@bloomberg.net

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