Thursday, May 19, 2011

Two in court for attempted US$48m crude oil scam NEWS

Two men appeared before an Accra Circuit Court on Tuesday charged with an attempted theft of a cargo of oil imported by Ghana from the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), valued at US$48 million. Ofodeme Ikenna Sylvester, 35, Operations Manager of Nigeria firm Zicokem, and Dennis Ofori carter, a Ghanaian businessman, were granted bail and are to appear again on 1 June. They pleaded not guilty to four counts of conspiracy, possessing forged documents, attempting to steal and deceiving public officers. A third person, Dr Nwangwu Idu, Chief Executive of Nigerian company, Diamond Shipping Company, was not in court.

The prosecution's case is that in August last year, the state-owned Tema Oil Refinery in Ghana imported crude oil valued at US$48 million from Nigeria, which was supplied by a Nigerian company, Sahara Group, through Refinee Petroplus, and paid for accordingly.

However, two other companies emerged last February to claim ownership of the cargo and demand payment.

The prosecution said each of the two groups provided documents, which, they claimed, were from the NNPC, but these turned out to be forged upon examination.

A defence counsel said he was surprised at the criminal trial since Sahara Group had begun a civil action against the defendants at Accra Commercial Court.

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