October 1, 2022

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How OAGF officials colluded with Webb Fontaine to defraud FG of N378m

Senate passes bill to re-enact Customs Act

The Senate has revealed how some top officials of the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation signed an agreement of tax waiver to Webb Fontaine Limited, which caused the Federal Government to lose N378 million Withholding Tax.

Webb Fontaine is a Port Community System Software company which provides an interface between port authorities, terminal operators and Customs, offering a comprehensive set of features designed for the facilitation of port logistics operations.

The Senate Public Accounts Committee, chaired by Senator Matthew Urhoghide, during the investigation on 2015 Audit Report against the Accountant-General of the Federation discovered that N3.7 billion was paid to Webb Fountain Limited without deduction of Withholding Tax, leading to the loss of tax revenue amounting to N378 million to the Federal Government.

According to the Auditor-General’s Report query, “The sum of N3.7 billion was paid to Webb Fountain Limited without deduction of Withholding Tax.

“This action led to the loss of tax revenue of N378 million and possibly more companies not covered by sampled test.”

But the representative of the Accountant-General stated that statutorily, by laws governing the Terms of Agreement of their contract, Webb Fontaine Limited had been exempted from and not subject to the payment of taxes (Withholding Tax or Value Added Tax).

The Senate, however, expressed dissatisfaction with arbitrary granting of exemption and waivers for payment of taxes to a private company which caused the Federal Government such a huge revenue loss.

It said all officials who signed the agreement with Webb Fontaine should be identified and sanctioned for causing loss of revenue. It asked the Accountant-General of the Federation to hand the officials over to the anti-graft agency in line with Rule 31112.

“The Accountant-General should recover the sum of N378 million from Webb Fountain Limited and remit to the Federal Inland Revenue Service.

“Recovery particulars should be forwarded to the Auditor-General of the Federation for audit,” it said.