The Counsel to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Afe Babalola & Co has revealed how the corporation’s due diligence in collaboration with officials of the Federal Government has saved Nigeria from losing a whooping sum of $125,000,000: 00 (One Hundred and Twenty-Five Million United States Dollars) to an international crime syndicate led by Messrs. Ramirez and Mr Jose Salazar Tinajero and their company Samano Sa De Cv.
The Law firm stated that SAMANO had contacted officials of the Federal Government of Nigeria sometime in 2015 with information in respect of 48 Million Barrels of Nigerian Bonny Light Crude Oil allegedly stolen from Nigeria and stored in various ports and terminals in the People’s Republic of China. SAMANO offered to purchase the alleged stolen crude upon its recovery.
“Event though its claim was difficult to believe given the stern procedures underpinning crude oil handling and export operations, the Federal Government of Nigeria in collaboration with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) set out to verify these claims and requested for evidence to that effect, which was never provided by SOMANO”, stated the Counsel. “Not withstandingt the failure to provide evidence to support its claims, relevant officials of the Government were mandated to proceed to China to verify the claims of the existence of the saidstolen Nigerian Crude Oil. The said delegation discovered that the SAMANO’s claim was false and baseless. Consequently, the Government severed communications with the syndicate.
“As a result this, Messrs. Ramirez and Mr Jose Salazar Tinajero, acting as agents of SAMANO, resorted to the blackmail and intimidation of key officials of the Government and the NNPC threatening to make public the fact that the said 48 million barrels of stolen Nigerian Crude Oil in China had been recovered, sold and the proceeds therefrom looted by some government officials and the NNPC when it was aware that this was untrue. They also demanded $125,000,000:00 (One Hundred and Twenty-Five Million Dollars) from said government officials, which was conveniently and rightfully ignored.
Thereafter, NNPC reported this case of attempted blackmail to the Department of State Security and the Nigeria Police Force. They, upon investigation, discovered that SAMANO and its agents were international fraudsters. Mr Ramirez, for instance,was indicted by the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Texas as the mastermind of a scheme leading to the loss of several millions of dollars through various mail and wire frauds between 2010 and 2013.In fact, there is a warrant for Mr Ramirez’s arrest and extradition to the United States to face criminal justice on account of the said fraud schemes. Mr. Jose Salazar Tinajero, a co-conspirator, has been in and out of jail in South America due to the involvement of SAMANO in elaborate smuggling and money laundering scams. Mr Ramirez is also facing two separate and unconnected criminal charges at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja in Charge No: FCT/HC/CR/147/2016 and the Federal High Court, Lagos in Charge No: ID/2763/2016. Both charges were preferred against Mr Ramirez by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for economic and financial crimes.
The Counsel said Mr. Ramirez and his cohorts have since been charged to several courts in Nigeria for criminal offences ranging from fraud, forgery, extortion, blackmail, conspiracy, etc. The charge which relates to the attempt to fleece the Federal Government and NNPC is Charge No.: FCT/HC/BU/CR/134/2019 between the Federal Republic of Nigeria v. Marco Antonio Ramirez & 4 Others pending before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory Abuja.
“But for the due diligence of the management of the NNPC, the Federal Government would have lost a whopping sum of $125,000,000:00 (One Hundred and Twenty-Five Million United States Dollars) to this international crime syndicate. The NNPC is currently consulting its lawyers Afe Babalola & Co. in a bid to take corresponding legal action(s) against the said syndicate for damages done to its reputation and its officials as a result of the false publications by the syndicate.