The Federal High Court in Lagos has heard why 14 foreigners, including three Russians, a Japanese and seven Britons who allegedly engaged in illicit oil trading were arrested.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) charged them with dealing in petroleum products without licence.
Testifying in their trial on Wednesday, EFCC’s investigator, Mr Abdullahi Allaya, said the accused persons, caught in a foreign-flagged vessel laden with petroleum products, flouted the law.
“They were arrested on March 8 by the Nigerian Navy before they were handed over to us on April 27. They used a foreign-flagged vessel with the flag of Panana, with International Maritime Organisation (IMO) number 9393644.
“They came into Nigeria with petroleum products onboard their vessel without any proper documentation, license or permit. They were also waiting for a directive from their employer to transfer petroleum products into a vessel called MV Norman Pacific.
The accused persons are Arthur Pakhladzhian, Vasaliy Shkundich, Kretov Andrey (Russians), Sergio Abgarian (Japanese), Vitalis Biluos, Laguta Olesksiy, Chepikov Oleksan (Ukrainians), Hilarion Teofilo Regipor JR, Cadavis Gerardo, Baduria Benjamin, Naranjo Antero JR, Patro Christian, Alcayde Joel, Micheal Bryan (Britons). Also charged were MT Anuket Emerald, Monjasa DMCC, and Glencore Energy UK Ltd.
EFCC said they committed the alleged offence in February 27 by allegedly storing 1,500 Metric Tons of Automated Gas Oil inside the MT Anuket Emerald’s Cargo tank.
They had also allegedly stored 3,035 Metric Tons of Low Pour Fuel Oil (LPFO) in other tanks, all of which contravene sections 4, 17, 19(6) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act and the Petroleum Act, Laws of Federation.
The defendants pleaded not guilty when they were arraigned on June 10.
Prosecution counsel Mr Rotimi Oyedipo tendered some documents to prove that the accused carried the alleged illegal transaction. The documents were admitted as evidence.
Justice Ibrahim Buba adjourned to Monday for cross examination.