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Issue 284 - 12 September 2014

Nigeria: Afren probe widens

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London-based Afren has suspended two more directors as part of an investigation into the receipt of unauthorised payments. The company suspended Iain Wright and Galib Virani on 28 August after finding that they had received payments linked to the previously identified transactions for the benefit of chief executive Osman Shahenshah and chief operating officer Shahid Ullah, who were suspended on 31 July. The payments were not made by Afren, the company said.In a note to its H1 accounts, Afren said the board had engaged lawyers Willkie Farr & Gallagher (WFG) to conduct an independent review into three transactions between Afren and its partners in 2012 and 2013.

Nigeria
Issue 272 - 03 March 2014

Tullow to report more payments detail

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Tullow Oil has announced that it plans to report payments for individual projects, not just on a country by country basis. “Tullow took an industry leading position in 2012 by declaring all of our payments to government and in 2013 when we bring out, we’re going to enhance that disclosure further by reporting on a project by project basis,” Tullow chairman Simon Thompson told a discussion entitled East Africa’s Oil and Gas Boom: Promise and Peril, organised by the Brookings Institution and Oxfam America on 20 February.

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A 4 September report by anti-corruption campaigner Global Witness has repeated claims of misconduct by Soco International and its contractors in their quest to explore in the Virunga national park. The report, based in part on material gathered for the documentary Virunga, released earlier this year, claims that “Soco and its contractors have made illicit payments, appear to have paid off armed rebels and benefited from fear and violence fostered by government security forces in eastern Congo, as they sought access to Africa’s oldest national park for oil exploration”.

DR Congo
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Global Witness has called on Italy’s Eni to explain incoming chief executive Claudio Descalzi’s apparent personal involvement in a corrupt oil deal in Nigeria. Descalzi is credited with heading Eni’s E&P division when it discovered huge gas resources offshore Mozambique, and will replace Paolo Scaroni, who has had three terms as Eni’s head (AE 276/19). According to Global Witness, police investigations in Italy and the UK into how Nigeria’s OPL 245 was awarded to Eni and Shell show that Eni officials led by Descalzi were centrally involved in negotiations with former Nigerian oil minister Chief Dan Etete. Etete is believed to have been one of the deal’s main beneficiaries.

Nigeria
Issue 277 - 20 May 2014

Nigeria: PwC to audit NNPC

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Accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has started work with the federal auditor-general to carry out an audit on the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) over an alleged missing $20bn in oil revenues. Speaking at the World Economic Forum on Africa in Abuja on 8 May, finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said the work, which began the previous week, should be completed within 16 weeks. “Our feeling is that the only way is to have a forensic audit that would let Nigerians know the truth about the issue,” she said.

Nigeria
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Parliament has passed a bill that aims to make the management of oil revenues more transparent, more than two years after the first oil sales from the newly independent country in July 2011. The Oil Revenue Management Bill, which was approved by parliament in July, must now be approved by the president in order to become law. The bill establishes a framework for how the government can use its oil revenues, which in H2 2011 accounted for 98% of government spending. Under the bill, a single Petroleum Revenue Account will be created to receive all oil sector revenues.

South Sudan
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The audit, funded by the UK’s Department for International Development, was contracted following revelations of the so-called “cashgate” scandal that caused President Joyce Banda to sack her cabinet in October and led to the suspension of $150m of aid by major donors, including the UK and European Union. The first three of some 70 people who have been charged appeared in court in late January. The scandal has dealt a substantial blow to Banda, who had sought to depict herself as a “new broom” sweeping out the corruption and poor governance of her predecessor Bingu wa Mutharika.

Malawi
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Ecobank chairman Kolapo Lawson was forced to stand down in late October after concerns were raised about corporate governance. Media reports said Lawson agreed to go after board members meeting in Ghana decided his departure was
necessary to restore confidence among customers and shareholders following a battle over governance issues. The Nigerian central bank wrote to the pan-African lender in April, notifying it of Lawson’s failure to repay $8.79m (N1.4bn) in debts sold to state-owned Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria and a further N1.6bn owed to Ecobank by businesses associated with him. 


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President Idriss Déby Itno has attempted to get tough with China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) over environmental violations at the Ronier field. This minor development is significant because of increased international interest in the Chadian upstream, with new companies taking acreage in the hope of finding successful rift basin plays, and for what it says about N’Djaména’s relationship with its biggest investor. The government halted CNPC’s operations in August after finding waste crude stored in open pits. However, it lifted the suspension in October after CNPC promised to literally clean up its act.

Chad
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A senior team leader at the Ethiopian Revenue & Customs Authority (ERCA) was jailed for five-and-a-half years in late July for receiving bribes and abuse of power. The Federal Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission arrested several ERCA officials on suspicion of corruption in May 2013 and charges were made later that month. Kumlachew Yeshambel was charged with taking 200,000 birr ($10,600) in bribes.

Ethiopia
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An investigation committee appointed by President Salva Kiir has recommended criminal proceedings against former cabinet affairs minister Deng Alor Kuol for an alleged ‘un-procedural’ transfer of $8m to Kenyan-based company Daffy Investment Group. Alor Kuol was suspended from the government in June, along with former finance minister Kosti Manibe Ngai. Manibe Ngai has since been cleared of any criminal responsibility.

South Sudan
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Liberian farmers, charcoal producers and workers have filed a complaint with the US Overseas Private Investment Corporation (Opic), accusing it of failing to monitor investments made to a failed biomass project. Between 2009 and 2011, Buchanan Renewables (BR) received $216.7m from Opic for a project to harvest rubber trees for biomass, rejuvenate family farms and generate sustainable energy for Liberia. Opic’s investment covered 70% of the costs of the project, which aimed to convert old rubber trees from the former Firestone plantation to woodchip. The woodchips were intended to fuel a 36MW biomass power plant in Monrovia and be sold for export.

Liberia
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The former head of state electricity company Société Nigérienne d’Electricité (Nigelec) Foukory Ibrahim has been arrested and jailed on suspicion of embezzling some CFA20bn (£25.7m). Ibrahim was an ally of former president Mamadou Tandja, who was toppled in a February 2010 military coup. Ibrahim had immunity as a serving MP for the Mouvement National pour la Société du Développement, which is now in opposition, but this was lifted last year.

Niger
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As usual, there was no explanation from Luanda of President José Eduardo dos Santos’ partial government reshuffle on 5 October, which reorganised key economic departments and the senior ranks of the military.

Angola
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A former consultant with US pipeline contractor Willbros International has been sentenced to 15 months in prison for his role in a conspiracy to pay some $6m in bribes to Nigerian officials. The consultant, Paul Novak, was also managing director of Addax Nigeria before it was sold to Sinopec.

Nigeria