-to submit preliminary report on Oil Block 13 to ExxonMobil Sale
President George Weah has instructed Justice Minister Musa Dean to investigate reports of alleged grave acts of corruption on the sale of Oil Block 13 to U.S. petroleum company ExxonMobil.
According to a release signed by Information Minister Eugene Nagbe, President Weah has given Minister Dean two weeks to get a preliminary report before his desk.
The release quoted the president as saying that if illegality (corruption, wickedness) is determined, those culpable will bear the full weight of the law and therefore urged all to cooperate.
Minister Nagbe said the Government of Liberia (GoL) is in receipt of information from several international groups, including Global Witness (GW) and The Wall Street Journal, alleging grave acts of corruption on the part of several former government officials relating to the sale of Oil Block 13 to Exxon Mobil.
Although President George Manneh Weah has already commissioned a general concession review, including concessions in the oil sector, these allegations of bribery and misuse of office are deeply concerning.
It may be recalled that London-based Global Witness released a report on Thursday, March 29, which claimed that Exxon’s 2013 purchase of Liberia’s Block 13 oil license more likely than not, enriched former government officials, who may have illegally owned the block.
The National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) also made unusual, large payments to senior government officials who authorized the 2013 deal, Global Witness said in a report entitled, “Catch Me If You Can.”
Global Witness’ Senior Campaigner, Jonathan Gant, called on the Liberian government to investigate those allegedly involved in Exxon’s 2013 oil deal for corruption or wrongdoing. Global Witness also claimed that it saw evidence, shortly following the authorization of the 2013 Exxon deal, in which some senior Liberian officials were paid “bonuses” of US$35,000 by NOCAL, which more than doubled their annual salaries.
“These officials, and the positions they held at the time, were NOCAL’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Randolph McClain; National Investment Chairman, Natty Davis; Finance Minister Amara M. Konneh’ Lands, Mines, and Energy Minister Patrick Sendolo; Justice Minister Christiana Tah; and NOCAL’s Board Chair, Robert Sirleaf,” the report said.
Block 13 was originally awarded by NOCAL in 2005 to Liberian-Anglo Company Broadway Consolidated/Peppercoast (BCP). But in 2007, the block was ratified by the Liberian legislature.
“But Global Witness’ evidence shows that the company was likely part-owned by former Lands, Mines and Energy Minister, Jonathan Mason, and former Deputy Minister, Mulbah Willie. Mason and Willie are suspected of granting the oil block to a company in which they held interests while they were also ministers in 2005, which was illegal under Liberian law,” Global Witness said.