N1.9bn Subsidy Fraud: Why Ontario Oil MD Bagged 10 Years

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Justice Lateefat Okunnu of the Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja who sentenced the Managing Director, Ontario Oil and Gas, Mrs Ada Ugo-Ngali to 10 years imprisonment has explained that the convict was found guilty of all the eight charges proffered against her by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

While delivering her ruling yesterday, Justice Okunnu said the EFCC proved its case beyond reasonable doubt against the convict, the Chairman of the Ontario Oil and Gas, Walter Wagbatsoma and their company. She thus sentenced her to a cumulative 69-year jail term but which would run concurrently for 10 years.

The anti-graft agency had in 2012 instituted a case against Wagbatsoma, Ndagi and a staff of the Petroleum Pricing Products Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) Ebenezer Fakuade for allegedly swindling the Federal Government through subsidy claims to the tune of N1.9bn. The accused persons were tried on the charges of conspiracy, obtaining by false pretence, forgery and altering of documents. Fakuade was however discharged and acquitted by the judge.

At yesterday’s proceeding, counsel to Ndagi, Edoka Onyeke, made spirited effort to get a lighter conviction for his client, citing her motherhood and poor health condition. But the judge turned down the plea, saying, “The request to grant a non-custodian sentence must be rejected.”

The judge said it had been proven that both Wagbatsoma and Ngo-Ngali were guilty of defrauding the Federal Government of N340m in the third quarter of 2010 and N414m in the fourth quarter of 2010.

“According to a forensic audit by Akintola Williams Delloitte, the defendants did not remit an excess of N754m to the Federal Government.

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The first defendant knowingly received the sum in excess of what the fourth defendant (Ontario Oil and Gas Limited) was entitled to. In my opinion, he contributed to the false pretence. The second defendant is the MD of the company, she is the alter – ego of the fourth defendant and was aware of the going on of the company,” the judge ruled.

Justice Okunnu also ruled that the oil and gas ‎company should remit  to the Federal Government’s coffer, the sum of N754m which forensic audit revealed to have been fraudulently collected.

Although, the first convict, Wagbatsoma was not in the court as he was said to be placed under house arrest in the United Kingdom, where he is being held for money laundering relating to another fraudulent engagement to the tune of £12m National Health Service Trust, he was nonetheless convicted by the court.

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