Aaron Henry Aboah, program manager for enforcement at the Liberia Anit-Corruption Commission (LACC) on Friday told a crowded courtroom at the Criminal Court ‘C’ that Aminata & Sons Petroleum Company duped the government of US$5,788,134.01 as an excess income which the company unjustly accrued when they sold the Japanese Oil Grant.
The 15,000 metric tons (MT) of petroleum products valued at US$13,000,000 was donated by the Government of Japan to the Government of Liberia to be used to support development initiatives in the country under a grant arrangement, provision of which was conveyed in an
Exchange of Notes between the donor (Japan) and the recipient (Liberia) in 2011.
In his testimony, Aboah, the LACC’s second witness, alleged that the petroleum company after selling the not-for-profit product, which included diesel and gasoline, “criminally managed to deposit an amount of US$8,504,177.50, holding back US$5,788,134.01.”
Aboah further alleged that the plot was uncovered during an audit conducted by the General Auditing Commission (GAC).
The witness claimed that Aminata & Sons also sold the product at the then market price of US$4.22 and US$4.37, without taking into consideration the gift element of the Japanese Oil of 21.19 percent of the market price.
He alleged that the company sold the products (both diesel and gasoline) for US$4.22 and US$4.37, of which the petroleum company realized a surplus amount of US$5,788,134.01, contrary to the agreed pump price.
According to Aboah, the LACC discovered the plot when they were contacted by Movement of the Downtrodden, a whistleblower.
“We received complaint from the Movement of the Downtrodden about the oil grant product transaction being awarded to Aminata & Sons which, they were warned, to reflect the pump price, so we invited the chief executive officer of Aminata & Sons, Siaka Turay,” the LACC witness claimed.
Aboah further alleged that at the investigation Turay denied any idea about the setting up of the new pump price. “But, he failed to show the investigators any record to establish that he did not set the price.”
Although, Aboah claimed, defendant Turay, as part of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), should have carried out public awareness, he alleged that did not happen.
Aminata & Sons, according to him, was requested to provide original invoices as well as other original supporting documentation to support the sale of the oil, but the company failed to provide the documents requested.
“On the issue of public awareness as indicated in the MOU,” the LACC witness quoted Turay as saying, “That money is still in my possession and I would make restitution.”
Aboah said, “We discovered that the product was wrongfully given to Aminata & Sons without the MOC and LPRC observing the Public Procurement Concession Commission (PPCC) that calls for a bidding process of which the two public entities did not exercise due diligence.
“As to the distribution of the product the record does not show as to how much was generated from each consignment that was turned over to Aminata & Sons. The record only managed to show the quantity that was given to the company and did not reflect the amount that the product was sold for,” Aboah said.
On August 30, 2011, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI), consignee, on behalf of the Government of Liberia, and the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC), the implementing agent for the monetization of the Japanese donated petroleum products.
A similar MOU was signed between the Ministry of Commerce (MOC), the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC) LPRC, and Aminata & Sons.
The case continues, with LACC expected to produce more witnesses.