ABUJA, Nigeria (AFP) — A Nigerian court has approved an arrest warrant against the head of ExxonMobil Nigeria for alleged fraud, local law enforcement said.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFFC), an agency that investigates financial crimes, said in a statement late on Wednesday that a court had approved an arrest warrant against Richard Laing, the chairman and managing director of ExxonMobil’s Nigerian affiliates.
“Justice Okon Abang on Friday January 29, 2021 granted the Commission’s application for the warrant,” the EFCC said, adding it had asked Laing three times to appear before investigators.
“The Commission is investigating alleged procurement fraud in the Major Integrity Pipelines Project,” the EFCC said.
The project is an ExxonMobil Nigeria scheme to upgrade offshore and onshore facilities.
The contract involves Mobile Producing Nigeria, a subsidiary of ExxonMobil, as well as Suffolk Petroleum Services Limited, Saipem Contracting Nigeria, Global Offshore Limited and Van Ord, the EFCC added.
“At issue is the fraudulent creation of change orders worth over $213 million (177 million euros),” said the EFCC. Change orders are contractual amendments.
A spokesman for ExxonMobil declined to comment.
“As a matter of practice, we do not comment on legal matters,” Oge Udeagha, spokesman at Mobil Producing Nigeria told AFP.
“The investigation is into the company and he (Richard Laing) is the face of the company,” EFCC spokesman Wilson Uwujaren told AFP by phone when asked if Laing was personally being investigated.
Laing was named boss of ExxonMobil Nigeria in August 2020, the company announced at the time.
Nigeria’s petroleum industry accounts for about 90% of foreign-exchange earnings and half of government revenue.
© Agence France-Presse