Nigeria Seeks $7.8 Billion from Oil Cos in Unpaid, Underpaid Taxes

Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathon Monday directed government agencies to recover $7.8 billion that audits carried out by the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative found oil companies operating in the country owed the government in unpaid and underpaid taxes, NEITI said Tuesday.

According to the audits, Nigeria's government has experienced a potential revenue loss of $9.8 billion as a result of under-assessments and under-payments of taxes and rents, process manipulation and poor interpretation of agreements between the government and companies, NEITI said, adding that it has already helped recover $2 billion but $7.8 billion remains outstanding.

However, in the past members of the industry have contested NEITI's findings.

Earlier in the year, Nigeria's state oil company, Nigeria National Petroleum Corp., or NNPC, vehemently denied findings by NEITI that suggested the company owed the government $8.16 billion for crude oil sales made between 2009 and 2011.

An industry source suggested that NEITI had misunderstood some of the figures it was given in its last report and clarification has been sought.

Foreign oil companies operating in Nigeria include Royal Dutch Shell PLC, Eni SpA, Total SA, Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp.

Total "recently conducted a tax audit over five fiscal years. (The audit) showed that the group respected its tax duties vis a vis the Nigerian state even if some points were still being discussed relating to amounts substantially lower than those which could be extrapolated from the figures announced," a spokesman for the French major said.

Shell and Eni declined to comment. Chevron and Exxon were not available to comment.

Geraldine Amiel in Paris contributed to this story.


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