27,000 Gallons of Gas ‘Stolen’ between 2012-2014

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Partial view of some of the LPRC storage tanks (Photo: LPRC website)

Amidst the ongoing gasoline crisis faced by the Country, the Daily Observer has learnt that while there have been operational loses of high volume over a period of 14 years at the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC), culminating into “bulk stock verification”, there was also an incident of theft.

The investigation showed that 27,000 gallons of gasoline were stolen from Tank (TX# 408) on June 20, 2012, on the grounds of the LPRC, which was masterminded by Mr. Mohammed Darblah, the former Operations Manager and who is currently serving as Petroleum Consultant at the LPRC.

In an interview with Mr. Aaron J. Wheagar, who served, at the time, as Deputy Managing Director for Operations yesterday via mobile phone, he admitted the “theft of 27,000 gallons of gasoline” from the LPRC racks, which led him to constitute and authorize an investigative committee.

“Yes, when I was Deputy Managing Director for Operations, there was some investigation of theft and the theft occurred on the rack,” he said.

He failed to state the recommendations made against the accused, Mr. Mohammed Darblah. However, Mr. Mohammed Darblah was suspended for a period of four months. Though the 27,000 gallons of gasoline stolen was never restituted.

When asked, the accused, Mr. Darblah, also via mobile phone he said: “It is not to his knowledge,” and hung up the phone.

Documents of this theft speak to the contrary.

Following the acute shortage of gasoline in the country, over the past two weeks, the LPRC has been hit by grave allegations of long-standing theft of gasoline and operational losses of high volume.

There have been several calls from both the opposition and ruling establishment to launch an intensive investigation into the situation between theft and actual operational loses.

In a communication (memo) in the possession of this newspaper, the then Deputy Managing Director for Operations at LPRC, Aaron J. Wheagar, constituted and authorized a five-man specialized investigation team to probe the “bulk stock verification” covering the period from 2010 – 2014.

The five-man specialized investigative committee was chaired by Mr. Bobby G. Brown and the members were Joseph B. Dennis, Charles Sherman, Leelar Dymacole ad Albert Tarpeh.

The job of the committee was spelt out in consonance with the communication from the then LPRC DMD for Operations: “In 2010, a committee headed by Sarlee Sartee, II, then Maintenance Manager, reported the difference between the book stock and the bulk stock in our shore tanks. In 2012, Universal Surveyor Incorporated also confirmed that there is a disparity between the actual stock in the tanks and the importer’s stock balances. And On April 17, 2014, Compliance also came up with a report that showed a huge difference between bulk stock and the importer’s stock balances.”

Wheagar, furthered: “Considering the above reports, I request that you reconcile the importers’ balances and the bulk stock in the tanks and come out with the following: 1. Contributing factor(s) for the differences; 2. Recommend how to avoid reoccurrence and, 3. Propose to management how the difference should be handled.”

After about two months later, the specialized Investigative Committed reported on June 9, 2014 that, among other things contributing to the variances, there was water drained of 4,113 gallons in TX# 407; and theft of 27,000 gallons of gasoline in TX# 408.

The reports confirmed the disparity in the Universal Surveyor Incorporated report between the actual stock in the tanks and the importer’s stock balances.

The LPRC independent Intelligence and Investigation (I&I) committee, which investigated the theft further, said the cost of the stolen 27,000 gallons of gasoline should be defrayed on the LPRC and make Mr. Darblah to restitute the money or be sued.

Meanwhile, President George M. Weah recently commissioned a special taskforce headed by Trokon Kpui, Minister of State Without Portfolio, to investigate and establish what caused an estimated 60 percent discrepancy between importers’ inventory reports of products at the LPRC and actual stock of products as its petroleum facilities.

The presidential task force mandate will cover the period between January 2017 and January 2020 and also include the following members: George D. Wolo, Ministry of Commerce; Peter D. Somah, Ministry of Commerce; Rufus G. Mahn, Liberia Revenue Authority; Augustine G. Chenoway, LRA; Dominic K.L. Hina, Ministry of Finance Development Planning.

The committee is expected to give a detailed understanding of the LPRC petroleum storage process and determine importation dates, product quantity and lifting schedules with the view of ensuring corrective measures to prevent a recurrence of the present situation.

4 COMMENTS

  1. SO WHAT? THESE GUYS ARE FULLY AWARE CORRUPTION IS NOT A CRIME AT ALL IN LIBERIA, SO THEY CAN DO ANYTHING WITH IMPUNITY. SO I DO NOT PERSONALLY KNOW WHAT ALL THE NOISE ABOUT. IF THE MOST CORRUPT PEOPLE IN LIBERIA ARE BEING LOOK UP TO, WELL RESPECTED, ADMIRE AND THE SAME MOST CORRUPT PEOPLE SEE THEMSELVES AS VERY VIABLE PEOPLE IN THE LIBERIAN SOCIETY THEN WE ARE DONE.. SO MANY MANY FOOLS ARE LIVING IN PARADISE IN LIBERIA MY PEOPLE. (WATCH)

  2. As this report states, “Meanwhile, President George M. Weah recently commissioned a special task force headed by Trokon Kpui, minister of state without portfolio, to investigate and establish what caused an estimated 60 percent discrepancy…”

    Perhaps, this might be the utmost best Weah could ever do to delve into the root causes of these acute shortages occurring at a time when world markets are experiencing a boom in oil supplies. Liberians say, “Case closed.”

    What then becomes of the hearings, its outcomes, and recommendations will forever remain a top secret between the commission and him especially when rumors are circulating like wildfires that he is an accessory to the gross theft happening at the Liberian Petroleum Refinery Corporation (LPRC).

    When one reads or watches Western plays and dramas, he often discovers that the protagonists, people called the “heroes” in layman terms, go through a lot of struggles. And sometimes the pains and agony of the protagonists do emanate from the antagonists or the villains or the bad guys who are bent on destroying the good deeds of the protagonists. And thus, this sequence of events continues between the protagonists (good guys) and the antagonists (bad guys) until the antagonists are won and evil is subdued. The protagonists finally become the hero in the epic struggle.

    On the contrary, the antagonists in the Liberian settings and ongoing sagas are always the winners, and the events are always anti-climatic; in other words, the stories have no end. One contributing factor as to why the stories are always anti-climatic is the people, who are often selected to become the heroes on the side of the impoverished masses, are themselves the bad buys in disguise. Before anyone challenges this logic, let me refer him or her to the statistics that reveal too many major cases of corruption are on the Liberian Supreme Court dockets and nothing has been done to adjudicate those cases.

    Another stinging revelation came out just a few days ago when the Daily Observer reported from a source how individuals in the highest echelons of power were behaving in ways that impeded the dispensation of justice by the judges. And it brought to mind, the old rhetorical question, “How can one be a player and a referee at the same time?”

    Only the masses will initiate their own change because Weah is mired in massive corruption and has lost the will to be the catalyst for change.

  3. Right.To.Be.Anonymous

    I agreed with your story, but the only distinction I want to make is that the Protagonist is not selected as you suggested. Like you rightly suggested, those selected most often turn out to be wolf in sheep clothing. The Protagonist is one who comes on the scene to right a wrong, correct a mistake without no thought of his safety. The protagonist is virtuous and chivalrous.

    The ones that you referring to are all crooks, with nothing but evil intent and they come not to do good, but harm to the people they claim to serve. Woe unto them.

    Sir, you are so correct when you say that they want to be both player and referee and that is all to common in our society and as a result of that, the playing field will never be level.

    thank yo, Sir.

    Peace

  4. Joe Moses

    Wow! I really like the way you put it: “…the wolf in sheep clothing.” Thanks for such a brilliant analogy.

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