The Ghana Chamber of Bulk Oil Distribution Companies (BODCs) has called for a presidential enquiry into allegations of bribery and issues of reconciliation pertaining to the bulk distribution companies (BDCs) and the Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation (BOST) Company Limited.
It said the issues raised in a draft audited report were very serious “and we humbly call on the President and the Minister of Petroleum to kindly constitute an investigative committee to look into the issues”.
Speaking at a press conference in Accra yesterday, the Chief Executive Officer of the BODCs, Mr Senyo Hosi, stated: “It must, however, be known that this call does not stop any BODC willing to take any legal action against BOST to establish its liability and secure payments from BOST to do so.”
An international audit firm, Ernst & Young, this year released a draft audited report of the BDCs claims of product losses in the BOST system in which the BDCs were alleged to have overdrawn BOST strategic stock.
But Mr Hosi described the claim of overdrawn stock as “absolutely impossible and flies in the face of the facts”.
He recalled that the last strategic stock procured by BOST was in November and December 2008 from Trafigura and the Tema Oil Refinery.
“Quantities bought were 34,350 metric tonnes and 8,090 metric tonnes, respectively,” he said.
He continued that in March 2009, BOST commenced the process of depleting its remaining pumpable strategic stocks and completed it in the second quarter of the year.
“BOST, since then, never held strategic stocks over the period of the audit. The BDCs have always served as the country’s strategic stock providers at no cost to the state.
“It is, therefore, not possible for the BDCs to draw down on strategic stocks which did not exist. We simply could not take what BOST did not have,” he said.
He said the BDCs had, over the period of the audit, discharged about 8.2 billion litres of petroleum products into the BOST system.
Referring to the audited report, Mr Hosi insisted that it was a draft report in which the auditors clearly indicated that it was “reliance restricted” and could not be upheld as an authentic document.
He said the draft audited report never implicated any BDC of having connived with any official to perpetrate fraud or rob BOST.
He accused BOST of not providing the auditors with sufficient information to skew the outcome of the report to its advantage and paint the BDCs in a bad light.
He alleged that the management of BOST wilfully suppressed evidence required to bring closure to the issues raised in the report.
“Coupled with the restrictive scope given Ernst & Young, it only suggests that the exercise was not meant to assist BOST ascertain the truth but to find reason to malign and taint the image of hardworking BDCs,” he said.
On recent reports of “massive fraud” and “collusion” in which BDCs and officials of BOST were alleged to have been cited, Mr Hosi denied any part of the draft audited report that touched on the two and challenged the media to make public that aspect of the report.
“We wish to know who colluded with whom? Which BDC with which BOST official to rob a strategic stock which did not exist? In fact, where in the report is this stated?
“The audit that was undertaken by Ernst & Young was not a forensic audit to be able to establish fraud,” he stated.
He said the issue of fraud was serious and that as a chamber “We will not countenance such acts by our membership. We, therefore, wish to encourage anyone with evidence of fraud to inform the appropriate state agencies for the necessary investigations.”
Touching on a leaked tape recording about Mr Hosi confessing that BDCs sometimes lobbied, including paying various sums of cash to influence processes at BOST, he said the allegation was a quest to deliberately malign his reputation and that of members of the chamber.
He said the tape recording in contention had nothing to do with the BOST stock audit, explaining that “the tape is a confidential recording of my testimony given three years ago before a ministerial committee”.
Mr Hosi said the recording was formally done, not a secret tape, and was held in confidence by the Ministry of Petroleum and other committee members under an oath of secrecy.
He alleged that the recording was leaked to the media when it was made available to the new Managing Director of BOST when he assumed office and, therefore, called on the Minister of Petroleum to take steps to investigate how a sensitive file was leaked to the media.