12 foreign shipping companies’ agents divert $300m levy, Reps raise alarm 

The House of Representatives committee on Maritime is investigating 12 foreign shipping firms’ local agents accused of diverting $300 million federal government fees for their own use.  Some of the companies  have however denied the allegation of wholesale indebtedness to government for which they are currently being investigated by the House from 2004 till date. The firms under scrutiny are GAC, Daddo Maritime Services, Blue Sea, Divine Marine, Transoceanic support services, Inchcape shipping and Maersk. Others are AlRaine, Hull Blyth CMA CGM- Delmas, Joe Eboje and Peak shipping. In their presentations, those who appeared before the panel like, Gac, Inch Cape, faulted the amounts allegedly owed NIMASA. From the $172 million, Gac is said to be owing it said that it owed less than $5million. It was the same position canvassed by Inch Cape and Hull Blyth.

They claimed that the figures before the committee did not represent what they owe, since reconciliation of figures was continuous. The House Committee on Maritime had raised alarm over how foreign shipping companies’ local agents are shortchanging the Federal government of revenue to the tune of over $300 million. House committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration, investigating allegations of non remittance and ill practices by the shipping companies, said this at the investigative hearing in Abuja. The committee said that so much monies amounting to $300million from 3 per cent levy they collected on behalf of the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, (NIMASA), from international shipping companies had been diverted.

Chairman of the committee, Rep. Umar Bago, said that while it was common on the part of the shipping firms as receivers on behalf of NIMASA to receive 3 per cent levy from their parent companies, as Nigeria agents, regrettably they deployed such monies for their personal use. Bago said that at times they changed their corporate names, directors and refuse to remit the funds to the nation’s consolidated fund account. ”You collect monies from international shipping companies, sit on the money, change your company names and directors, and do business with the funds without remitting to the consolidated fund, ” he said.

According to the firms, some payments made to NIMASA were not receipted, a development that has also jeopardized the reconciliation process. But based on the revelation at the hearing, the committee had vowed to invoke Executive order six and a bench warrant of arrest on the chief executive officer of any of the erring companies The committee added that the warrant of arrest would be on companies who may have made away with the country’s monies and those who declined to honor and appear before the House panel. “Moreso, firms indicted will be handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for prosecution,” Bago also warned.

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