FORENSIC ACCOUNTANT CASTIGATES FEDERAL INLAND REVENUE SERVICES FOR PROTECTING OIL COMPANIES

Issues in appropriate auditing process and accountability have, over the years become a constant source of worries and had, often led to cases of finger pointing by Federal Government agencies responsible for regulating the oil and gas sector and the mostly multinational oil producing companies in the country.

The contentious issue had always revolved around the huge discrepancies between amount that up stream oil companies say they paid and what the government says it actually received.

Financial experts and officials of the Nigeria Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative had, since 2004 continued to dismiss the measure of transparency and accounting standards as generally poor.

But a United States of America based Nigerian forensic accountant has accused the Federal Inland Revenue Services of shielding the influential multinational oil companies from the investigative probing of forensic accounting. The Federal Inland Revenue Services is the primary government agency responsible for assessing tax and other revenue due to the government from oil and gas exploration and production activities of shielding.

Mr. Nat Cole, the Forensic Accountant observed that he had been aware of a flourishing practice of under reporting of revenue due to the Federal Government from the multinational oil companies in Nigeria and had approached the Chair person of the FIRS to approve for him, at no cost to the government, the responsibility of auditing the oil companies on the auditing model of forensic accounting’. Cole said.

“The Federal Government and other stakeholders in the oil and gas sector have always been suspicious of figures declared by multinational companies in the now vexed joint venture arrangement with the government in oil exploration and production. In fact, the Nigeria Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative had, in an audit covering the period 1999 to 2004, uncovered huge discrepancies in the figures returned to the government by the oil companies and the figures that are, actually, due to the government.

“As a veteran forensic accountant with more than 28 years auditing the oil and gas sector in the United States and other countries in Europe, I had volunteered my services to the FIRS to audit the books of the oil companies without charges to the Federal Government. I told the Chairman of the FIRS, Mrs. Omoigui Ifueko-Okauru of the limitations of the conventional auditing style to get the actual status of revenue accruable to Nigerians through payment to the government by the oil companies.

“The fact is that by deploying the forensic model of auditing one would be avoiding the what you see is what you get model of auditing. The fact is that with the auditing, you can only work within and by the figures the companies present to you. You won’t be able to ask questions beyond the figures presented. But with forensic accounting and auditing procedure you apply investigative techniques and that will uncover more facts that can be authenticated.

“But the FIRS seems not be to be bothered about what I all of us believe are the wrong things the oil companies are doing as they deliberately act to short change us. I offered my service and I think it is the responsibility of the FIRS management, if they are really serious about getting the right picture of what is happening in the oil and gas sector, to approve the forensic auditing of the companies in the sector.

“But I fear that the FIRS may not be willing to do this because it might be protecting the oil companies from what I can’t really understand. Well, the truth is that the oil giants have become so influential in government that they seem to do things at will and get away with these inappropriate things. It won’t be until we muster enough courage to confront them that the nation would be able to get what is rightfully its, from the oil giants.” Nat explained.

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