Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has arraigned Dubai-headquartered Monjasa DMCC, Glencore Energy UK Limited, the vessel MT Anuket Emerald, and 14 foreign nationals alleged to be involved in illegal oil bunkering on a 4-count charge bordering on conspiracy and illegal dealing in petroleum products.
The accused have been charged with conspiracy to commit an offence, as well as dealing with 1,738.087 metric tons of petroleum products without lawful authority or appropriate licence. Both offences are said to have happened on February 27, 2015.
The suspects are said to include three Russians, three Ukrainians, eight Filipinos, and one Georgian.
All of the accused pleaded not guilty to the charges, and were granted a NGN 50 million (USD 251,324) bail each by Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court in Lagos.
The suggestion by the defense counsel to release the accused persons to their respective embassies was refused by the court.
The defense counsel told the court that since the accused persons were not Nigerians, it would be difficult to find a surety but urged the court to accept bank guarantee of the total sum. The counsel further requested the court to remand the accused persons in EFCC custody pending the perfection of their bail condition.
Justice Buba granted the acceptance of a bank guarantee of NGN 750 million (USD 3.77 million) as bail bond for the accused persons, but ordered the accused persons to be remanded in prison custody pending the perfection of their bail terms.
The case was adjourned to June 17, 18 and 19, 2015 for commencement of trial.
According to EFCC, the Nigerian Navy Ship Beecroft intercepted MT Anuket during a routine patrol within Nigerian waters on March 8, 2015 on suspicion of illegal oil dealing before handing over the vessel and it crew to the EFCC. Investigation by the EFCC revealed that the registered owner of the vessel is Combe Shipping Limited and the beneficial owner is Alliance Tankers Incorporated and that the ship flies Panama Flag with IMO number 9393644. Furthermore, it was discovered that Monjasa DMCC of Dubai UAE are the chatterers of the vessel.