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Nigeria Cheated of $2.4 billion by US Company, Addax Petroleum as FBI Incriminates Ex NNPC Staff

A former senior official of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is facing bribery and tax-related allegations in the United States. Paulinus Iheanacho Okoronkwo, a dual citizen of Nigeria and the U.S., allegedly accepted bribes totaling $2.1 million from Addax Petroleum to assist the company evade a $2.4 billion liability to Nigeria.

The payments were made through wire transfers to Mr. Okoronkwo’s U.S. law firm bank account under the guise of consulting fees for resolving disputes with NNPC. Prosecutors have also accused him of obstructing justice and evading taxes related to the illicit income.

Mr. Okoronkwo, who worked as a general manager in NNPC’s upstream department, allegedly used his position to influence decisions favorably for Addax Petroleum. Despite efforts to suppress the nature of the payments, suspicions were raised, leading to the firing of a senior vice-president of Addax Petroleum. Additionally, Mr. Okoronkwo faces charges of obstruction and tax evasion for misleading investigators and failing to declare the bribe income in his tax returns.

The indictment emphasizes the complexity of the case, involving international transactions and attempts to conceal illegal activities. If convicted, Mr. Okoronkwo could face up to 10 years in prison and forfeiture of assets acquired with the illicit funds, including a property purchased for nearly $1 million in cash.

NNPC has yet to comment on the case, which adds to a series of prosecutions targeting illicit transactions originating from Nigeria. This development follows recent confiscations of funds from individuals involved in illicit activities, such as an unlicensed arms dealer who defrauded Nigeria of millions of dollars.

IMAGE: Swissinfo

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