Former Deputy Managing Director for Operations at the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC), Aaron Wheagar is yet to be bailed from the Monrovia Central Prison, where he has spent twelve days in connection with an alleged scam that duped government of US$5,764,110.84 from the sale of the Japanese Oil Grant.
The 15,000 metric tons were donations from the Government of Japan to the Government of Liberia to enhance the country’s economic and social development, which Wheagar was the implementing focal person from the LPRC.
The market value of the product was put at US$13,083,350 equivalent to ‘One billion Japanese yen.’
Since he was arrested and subsequently imprisoned on August 24, Wheagar’s lawyer has been finding it difficult to rise over US$30,000 to secure his bond to wait for his trial on multiple charges, including economic sabotage.
If Wheagar is found guilty he would get a prison sentence not exceeding five years and a fine not exceeding US$100,000.
Wheagar together with former Commence Minister, Madam Miatta Beyslow, former LPRC Managing Director Nelson Williams and Steve Flahpaye, former Director for Price Analysis and Marketing and focus person of the oil grant at the Ministry of Commence, that the government alleged designed the scam are yet to be arrested, despite a writ of arrest issued against them by the Criminal Court ‘C’ at the Temple of Justice.
The indictment, made public on Feb. 25, alleged that Wheagar submitted false financial report to the government for the sale of the Japanese Oil Grant and took away money in the amount of US$5,764,110.84 for their personal use.
According to the court records, Wheagar in November 2011 wrote then Chairman of the Board of Directors of LPRC, Cllr. Negbalee Warner, indicating that the petroleum company incurred 46.84 metric tons of ship to shore losses, as well as, 23 metric tons of gasoline and 7metric tons of diesel as over night loses, which he claimed government lost about US$48,932.45.
But, in his final report to the government about his distribution and sale of the oil grant, the records alleged, Wheagar claimed that the 46.84 metric ton did not incur of ship to shore, instead, it was debt paid to a company named Augusta Energy as a result of storage leakages.
Again, the indictment alleged that Wheagar sold the product at a pump price of US$4.40 per gallon of gasoline and US$4.55 per gallon of diesel, ignoring an agreed price of 21.19% reduction on the pump price on each of the products (gasoline and diesel), based on the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) dated August 30, 2011 between LPRC and Aminata and Sons Inc.
Instead of recording US$4.40 per gallon of gasoline and US$4.55 per gallon of diesel, the court documents alleged Wheagar recorded the agreed deduction of 21.19%, which he claimed he sold the gasoline for US$0.93 and US$0.96 for diesel at the pump, respectively.
They put the total deduction made by Wheagar for gasoline as US$2,751,958.629 and for diesel as US$1,156,408.6224 amounting to US$3,908,367.25, which government claimed Wheagar could not account for.
The indictment also alleged that after the sale of the oil, Wheagar was to deposit US$10,310,988.14 into the government account at the Central Bank of Liberia. Unfortunately, he allegedly deposited an amount of US$8,504,177.001 to the CBL, leaving an unaccounted amount of US$1,806,811.14, which government put the difference to US$5,764,110.84.
The MOU, the indictment alleged, requested for an external auditor to whom the amount of US$16,000 was to be paid to, to conduct a comprehensive audit on the execution of the Japanese Oil Grant, but, Wheagar instead chose to hire Inter Ocean Petroleum and General Merchandise Inspection Inc, (PEGMI) which, prior to the MOU, was performing similar services for the LPRC.