by Ranti Joseph
The recently released forensic audit of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, operations on the missing $20 billion oil money may not be reliable after all.
PricewaterhouseCoopers, the audit firm that conducted the probe, says it cannot vouch for the integrity of its findings.
In a shocking introductory letter addressed to Nigeria’s Auditor General, PWC said its findings in the 199-page report were limited to available information and did not constitute a review in accordance with generally accepted standards.
“The procedures we performed did not constitute an examination or a review in accordance with generally accepted auditing standards or attestation standards.”
“Accordingly, we provide no opinion, attestation or other form of assurance with respect to our work or the information upon which our work was based.”
The firm instead listed a series of potential factors that could render its findings implausible, saying it had no access to the full account of some relevant agencies like NPDC, the upstream petroleum industry subsidiary of the NNPC.
The firm explained that where it lacked data; it turned to details of earlier investigations carried out by the Nigerian Senate, which all but cleared the NNPC, and the petroleum ministry of any wrongdoing.
“We did not obtain any information directly from NPDC, but in accordance with NPDC former Managing Director’s (Mr Briggs Victor) submission to the Senate Committee hearing on the subject matter, for the period, NPDC generated $5.11billion (net of royalties and petroleum profits tax paid),” it noted.
Furthermore, PricewaterhouseCoopers said without an independent legal opinion, it relied on the legal advice of the Nigerian government’s Attorney General (AG) on the subject of the transfers of various NNPC (55%) portion of Oil leases (OMLs) involved in the Shell (SPDC) Divestments which impact crude oil flows in the period.
“The AG’s opinion indicated that these transfers were within the authority of the Minister to make. Thus, these assets were validly transferred to NPDC. The same AG’s Legal Opinion also indicated that NPDC was to make payments for Net Revenue (dividend) to NNPC, which should ultimately be remitted to the Federation Account,” PwC said.
PwC added that although it reviewed documents submitted by the key parties involved, the audit was conducted independently, with its findings based on the review of documentation, analytical reviews of data, and interviews conducted.
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