Auditors: $1.48 billion missing from Nigerian oil revenues

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ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — At least $1.48 billion is missing from Nigeria's oil revenues, according to an international audit that found much less unaccounted for than the $20 billion alleged by the former Central Bank governor.

The report by PricewaterhouseCoopers covering January 2012 to July 2013 is an indictment of the accounting of the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corp., which it said needs to be urgently restructured.

It said the corporation should pay at least $1.48 billion into the federal account.

President Goodluck Jonathan received the report on Monday and promised to publish key findings. An opposition coalition contesting a close presidential election Feb. 14 is demanding the entire report. Key findings collated by the federal auditor general were made available Thursday to The Associated Press.

The auditors also questioned $3.38 billion in alleged subsidies for kerosene charged by the petroleum corporation although a presidential directive ended the subsidy in 2009. Millions of Nigerians use kerosene for cooking. Few pay the subsidized price for which the petroleum corporation bills Nigeria's treasury. A Central Bank report said it was a scam — that private business people favored by the corporation reap benefits amounting to $100 million a month from the supposed subsidy.

Jonathan a year ago fired Central Bank governor Lamido Sanusi, a well-respected figure in international finance circles, after Sanusi created a scandal alleging $20 billion in oil revenues was missing — more than $1 billion a month over a 19-month period.

The PricewaterhouseCoopers audit excluded key areas where Sanusi charged billions were missing, including swaps of crude oil for refined petrol and questionable sales of state-owned assets to private companies.

Sanusi said he went public because Nigeria should have been saving windfall petrol earnings of more than $110 a barrel. Today, with oil at less than $50 a barrel, Nigeria's economy is hurting. Nigeria is Africa's biggest oil producer, pumping nearly 2 million barrels a day.

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