State owned Oil Company the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) has denied any act of corruption in the PetroSA- Sabre oil deal.
GNPC came under fire yesterday following reports that it had together with the Energy minister approved the PetroSA Sabre deal which is currently being investigated by South Africa’s special police investigating team the Hawks over allegations of fraud and corruption.
PetroSA is being accused of negotiating the acquisition of Sabre oil’s stakes in Ghana “in reverse”, agreeing to pay an extra US20m.
Last year Sabre sold its 4.05 per cent stake of the deep water Tano Block as well as 1.7 per cent stake in the offshore Jubilee field to PetroSA.
PetroSA yesterday in a press statement admitted some improprieties occurred in its bid to secure the deal, noting it was “competing for these opportunities against many established players”. “Therefore, in the process of increasing PetroSA’s chances of successfully closing these deals, unfortunately some deviations from our normal procurement processes have occurred.”
But Executive Director of the IMANI Ghana, Franklin Cudjoe yesterday called on President John Mahama to launch investigations into the management of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) in connection with “PetroSA’s alleged payment of bribes (some US$20m) in its recent purchase of Sabre and Gas Holding Ltd in Ghana.”
According to him, the investigations will be in the best interest of the country “before we are disgraced as a nation and damaged as a trustworthy investment destination.”
But in a statement from GNPC copied to Citi Business News it said ‘the original news reports did not link GNPC in any way to any of the alleged wrongdoings and any attempts to conjure any wrongdoing on the part of GNPC are unwarranted and unfounded.’
It further insisted that GNPC was not involved in any act of corruption. ‘GNPC categorically denies any act of irregularity or corruption on its part in the transaction.
The sale of Sabre’s interests in Ghana to PetroSA was a private commercial arrangement between two independent and willing parties (seller and buyer) dictated by international norms. GNPC did not play any role in the pricing and sale negotiations’.
Further stating that GNPC’s role in the transaction was limited to ensuring that the requirements of the Petroleum Agreements were duly complied with as follows:
1. PetroSA would be able to meet the financial capability and technical competency obligations that it would be assuming
2. PetroSA would be an acceptable strategic partner to GNPC as required under Section 2 of the Petroleum Exploration and Production Law (PNDCL 84). This law requires all companies to conduct upstream petroleum activities in partnership with GNPC;
3. That the interests of Ghana would be protected.
According to GNPC it was convinced about the three requirements above and accordingly provided its consent to the transaction. ‘There is no basis for allegations of corruption on the part of any GNPC official.
We are confident that the on-going inquiries on PetroSA will confirm these assertions.’
Investigations into spending at PetroSA begun last year after its former chief financial officer reportedly submitted three affidavits to the police asking for an investigation.
Over a billion Rand in all is suspected to have been spent by some top management of the company.