Speaking at the 18th Nigerian Economic Summit meeting in Abuja, she said a forensic investigation carried out by the government revealed the subsidy fraud.
According to her, the government engaged 20 forensic experts, examiners and auditors from PriceWaterHouse Coopers and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and they have worked for more than four months on the subsidy claims.
“Last week, the work was submitted to Mr. President and of the amount verified, they have determined N232 billion. You know they came out with N270 billion initially; now they are out with N232 billion claims of oil subsidy that are not substantiated or fraudulent.”
She said on the strength of the forensic investigation, the government has started to recover the claims from the affected marketers.
She vowed that the government would recover the cash fraudulently obtained through subsidy claims.
Okonjo-Iweala regretted that the forensic investigation and the government’s resolve to hold indicted marketers to account have slowed down the oil importation programme.
She, however, stressed that government has continued to pay genuine subsidy claims to petroleum marketers.
“We are going through forensic investigation because it is the kind of work that requires indepth investigation and that is because we want to do a thorough job on the matter because Nigerians want government to take corruption out of the way so that we can be like other nations of the world where things are done properly,” Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala said.
The presidential task force headed by Access Bank Managing Director Aigboje Aig-Imoukuede and the National Assembly probe have verified slightly more than N3 trillion , but government decided to subject the reports to forensic examinations.
Speaking on the issue of cash backing for the fourth quarter, the Finance Minister said the Federal Government released N170 billion as cash backing for the fourth quarter of 2012.
“On the issue of cash backing for the fourth quarter: as you know, we released N300 billion last quarter for a total of N1.01 trillion in releases and it was said that we have not cash backed the fourth quarter
“This is not correct; we have cash backed N170bn of the fourth quarter release, that’s the correct information, about N111billion of that has gone straight into the accounts of Ministries, Department and Agencies as cash.”
According to the minister, a balance of N59 billion will service Authorisations to Incur Expenditure (AIEs).
She said that as at the end of October, 71 per cent had been utilised, while 20 per cent was yet to be utilised.
“So, we believe that before the end of the year, it will be utilised by the MDAs.
“We also want to be careful not to just release funds anyhow until we are sure of what it is being used for.
“We have also released N44 billion to the Federal Ministry of Works in order to enable it to work on the major damaged roads in Nigeria against the Christmas season.”
On the police pension, she said that a letter had been sent to ensure that payments were continuously made to police pensioners.
“To make sure that police pensioners are paid, we handed over the management of the account to the Accountant General of the Federation and he has been effecting payment to pensioners.
“And he has restructured the nine accounts to four; he is managing them while the restructuring of the police pension outfit goes on.’’
Okonjo-Iweala, who is also the Co-ordinating Minister for the Economy, gave the assurance that a transparent police pension office capable of managing resources effectively, would be put in place.