General News of Thursday, 7 April 2011
Source: Francis Doku
REBUTTAL OF FALSE ALLEGATIONS BY THE ENQUIRER AND INFORMER NEWSPAPERS AND RADIO PROGRAMME AT RADIO GOLD
Sahara Energy Resource Limited (Sahara) is a reputable company operating in Nigeria with business relationships across the world. Sahara wishes to respond to a series of allegations recently made against its good name in Ghana by the newspapers known as The Enquirer and The Informer. The activities of the said newspapers are triggered by certain unknown private individuals in both Nigeria and Ghana who harbour unfounded resentment against Sahara borne out of otherwise fair business competition. These newspapers have engaged in a campaign of misinformation against Sahara with the sole aim of portraying Sahara in a false and negative light.
Sahara wishes to defend the excellent history of business relations it has had with various Ghanaian entities, especially the Ghana Government’s Tema Oil Refinery (TOR). This relationship has been nurtured and advanced on the principles of good faith, mutual benefit, sound business ethics and professionalism.
ALLEGATIONS OF FRAUD COMMITTED AGAINST TEMA OIL REFINERY (TOR)
The Enquirer and The Informer have published a series of allegations that:
(1) Sahara had duped TOR in a brass-crude transaction worth $48 million;
(2) Sahara had used a non-existent company, Refinee Petroplus to commit the alleged act;
(3) Sahara had misrepresented Ms Yvette Foli as its representative in the transaction with TOR; and
(4) Sahara had somehow been paid $48 million by TOR for 600,000 Brass River Crude supplied by another entity.
CONTRACT FOR SUPPLY OF 600,000 BARRELS OF BRASS CRUDE OIL
In mid 2010, TOR’s refinery was in danger of being shut down. Representatives of TOR held discussions with the Refinee Petroplus and negotiated a contract for the supply of 600,000 barrels of Brass River Crude Oil to TOR to avert the imminent shutdown of TOR refinery. After successful negotiations (evidence of correspondence between the parties is enclosed), both parties entered into a contract for the supply of 600,000 barrels of Brass River Crude Oil to Refinee Petroplus on a free on board basis.
Refinee Petroplus sourced for this crude on the international market from Sahara. The practice of one company purchasing crude oil from another and onselling the crude purchased on the international market; is a long standing and well established custom among companies that trade crude oil internationally. In line with this practice and in order to perform its obligations under the TOR contract, Refinee Petroplus purchased the crude oil from Sahara which it sold in turn to TOR.
The contract would have been impossible to perform if the transaction had not been structured in this manner. There is no way that the TOR vessel would have been able to berth at, and load the crude oil from, the designated terminal if the sequence of stipulated information and required approvals had not been exchanged and obtained by all the parties involved, including TOR.
The Brass River crude oil was collected and received at Refinees Petroplus’s nominated terminal by MT Verginia II acting on behalf of TOR!
Sahara’s involvement in the transaction was to the extent that it would ensure that the 600,000 barrels of Brass River Crude Oil that had been sold to Refinee Petroplus would be available to the party that Refinee Petroplus was supplying; which in this instance was TOR, at an agreed place and time.
RESPONSE TO ALLEGATIONS OF FRAUD AND ILLEGALITY OF CONTRACT FOR SUPPLY OF BRASS RIVER CRUDE OIL TO TEMA OIL REFINERY
First, as a responsible and law-abiding, sub-regional corporate citizen, Sahara holds its professional reputation in high esteem and under no circumstance would it compromise this for any reason at all; especially not for the expedience of a single transaction.
Sahara would like to state that there has not been any malfeasance, ill-intention or unprofessional conduct on its part or on the part of any of its associate companies, or on the part of any of the individuals associated with it in the contract for the supply of 600,000 barrels of Brass crude oil as alleged in the various malicious publications in the press that have been made mala fide Secondly, Refinee Petroplus is a company validly existing and operating under the laws of the British Virgin Islands having been incorporated in that territory in 2007. This is clearly contrary to the false and malicious allegations that Refinee Petroplus is non-existent.
Refinee Petroplus entered into a contract with TOR to supply TOR with 600,000 barrels of Brass crude oil. The transaction was financed by letters of credit established with BNP Paribas, a globally renowned financial institution. Refinee Petroplus duly performed its contractual obligation under the contract and supplied the Brass crude oil to TOR and received payment through BNP Baripas. This can be independently verified by all the parties; in sum this was a transaction at arm’s-length between all the parties involved in the contract. Finally, on the allegations regarding Ms Yvette Foli, Sahara would like to state that she is an employee of So Energy Ghana Limited, a subsidiary of Sahara. At the time of concluding the TOR negotiations, Refinee Petroplus duly appointed her as country representative for the purpose of acting as a correspondent, executing the contract and ensuring that the operational modalities in relation to the contract for the supply of 600,000 barrels of Brass River Crude Oil are concluded without any operational lapse or failure.
MALICIOUS NATURE OF PUBLICATION
It has come as a rude shock to Sahara that there would be such a choreographed assault on its reputation, when the Enquirer and The Informer have not given it even a half-chance to explain its knowledge of, or level of involvement in, the transaction. There are two sides to a story, all these newspapers have done is to publish one side of the story without an independent verification of all the facts involved. The publication of the story is obviously in bad faith and is made with the intention of tarnishing Sahara’s good name.
The allegations made by The Enquirer and the Informer against Sahara are false, scandalous and injurious to the hard-earned reputation of Sahara as well as its business, which has already suffered significantly since the publications began. The publication have succeeded in portraying Sahara in a false light as a company that is involved in surreptitious business dealings aimed specifically at depriving the government of Ghana of substantial revenue that should accrue to it.
Sahara has already instructed its lawyers to advise it on its legal rights against the Enquirer and The Informer, as well as the individuals who have all either in concert or individually published any of the scandalous and false allegations against it. The necessary steps to bring legal action will be taken in the next few days.
As a leading oil and gas company in the sub-region, Sahara will continue to do good business at an arm’s length and will continue to support the government of Ghana in meeting its energy needs.