House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts has urged the incoming government of President-elect Muhammadu Buhari and regulators of the accounting profession to probe and sanction PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) over “unprofessional auditing” of the alleged missing $20 billion oil funds.
Its chairman, Solomon Adeola, added that any amount paid to the company for the audit of the accounts of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) should be recovered by the Federal Government “because no auditing was done”.
Adeola, who spoke in Abuja with reporters on the purported release of the forensic audit report by the firm, said it was meant to mislead, deceive and to send wrong signal to the citizens.
He hailed Gen. Buhari for signaling his resolve to probe the alleged missing oil money after taking over from President Goodluck Jonathan’s government at the end of the month.
He said: “There is need for us to revisit and know the truth behind this particular issue. Where is this $20 billion? Is it really missing? This is not N20 billion; it is billions of dollars, which represent more than two years’ budget of this country in terms of funding.
“If you could remember, there was a press statement by this committee, where we requested that this all important forensic report be laid before the National Assembly, and a copy sent to this committee within a specified period of time.
“This was because we noticed there was some foul-play in that particular report as submitted by this reputable firm, the PricewaterhouseCoopers, where in that report it was adjudged that the amount of money that the NNPC ought or need to pay back was just $1.485 billion.
“Now, the PwC has said there was no report and that what they did was not a forensic audit, but just gathering of information; that a lot of documents were not released to them to carry out this exercise.
“But prior to now, all these were not brought to the notice of this country and the country has been deceived all along.
“And if a reputable firm like PricewaterhouseCoopers can go to that level, I think it’s only fair and proper for such body to be reported to the International Federation of Accounting, Association of Conference, and also to the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria; and to face disciplinary action of all these bodies by explaining their role in this $20 billion saga.”
He called on the incoming government “to henceforth suspend PricewaterhouseCoopers from carrying out any financial audit or investigation on behalf of the Federal Government or into any of its agencies with immediate effect.
“And not only that, it has collected audit fees from the Federal Government. If there was no audit carried out and if there was no report submitted, I think they should go ahead and refund back into the Federal Government coffers the amount collected in carrying out this exercise; failure which should be met with very stiff disciplinary action from the Federal Government and relevant professional bodies.”
He said for a highly rated firm like PwC to be allegedly involved in such financial saga showed that “there is more to it”.
Adeola said all audit exercises and investigations that have been carried out by PwC in the past few years should be revisited by the incoming government.
According to him, this should include the oil subsidy report tendered by PwC.
“Don’t forget during the oil subsidy issue, PricewaterhouseCoopers was engaged to carry out audit exercise. I also implore the incoming administration to carry out verification of the report submitted on the issue of the oil subsidy,” he said.
The lawmaker said his committee and the National Assembly have been vindicated in their insistence that the report was fraudulent.
“We must get to the root of this matter, and we must address this issue once and for all,” he said.