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A&V waits on Kroll/Gaffney report

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

A&V Oil and Gas attorneys say they are yet to receive the report from Canadian consultant Kroll and Gaffney Cline on the forensic audit into oil supplied to the state oil company Petrotrin by A&V.

On Saturday, lead attorney Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj said A&V expected to get a copy of the reports done by the two independent firms by yesterday “so that Petrotrin could point out specific findings of fraudulent conduct or breach of contract against A and V.” He said under the law if there were findings of breach of contract, A&V “should be informed of the allegations and evidence prior to the publication of the report.”

Maharaj also said A&V has retained the services of a Canadian forensic oil and gas expert with the equivalent experience and skill of Kroll and that opinion “shows there is no evidence that A&V committed any fraud or breach of contract.” He refused to identify the company which did the work.

The Kroll and Gaffney Cline report has not been made public, but Petrotrin has confirmed the findings were in keeping with the findings of the internal audit which were made public in August. The internal audit, now confirmed by Kroll and Gaffney Cline, had concluded Petrotrin paid for oil it never received from the Catshill Field in the sum of TT$80 million.

The T&T Guardian reached out to A&V Oil CEO Nazim Haniff Baksh for a response yesterday, but he referred questions to Maharaj.

Yesterday, neither former energy minister Kevin Ramnarine nor Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan could shed any light on any Canadian firm other than Kroll with the expertise to conduct the necessary review.

Seepersad-Bachan said, “A&V could retain who they want but the fact is that Kroll confirmed the findings of the internal audit, by now somebody should have been held culpable. What is the company doing for this major loss, this over fiscalisation.”

She said as far as she is concerned “there are management people who have to be held accountable and there is the issue of fraud which should have been reported to the Fraud Squad a long time ago, somebody pretending to deliver and somebody pretending to receive.”

Ramnarine said having received reports from Kroll and Gaffney Cline confirming the findings of their internal audit, “the next step is for Petrotrin to send the reports to the Fraud Squad. What more can Petrotrin do, they have reached the limit of what they could do.” He also believes the Integrity Commission must be brought into the picture.

He said the matter had also “damaged the credibility and reputation of the country’s most important economic sector and we need more answers.”

Ramnarine said he also found it “very strange,” that the Ministry of Energy has been silent on the findings.

The T&T Guardian sent questions to Minister Franklin Khan via his communications department but got no response. Calls to Khan’s cell phone also went unanswered.

Meanwhile, Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union vice president Ozzie Warwick said the stands by its call for a “complete revamping of the lease and farm-out systems at Petrotrin.” He said this has been the union’s position for more than a decade because “the lease and farm-out as it is configured provides the opportunity for corruption.”

On Friday, Petrotrin chairman Wilfred Espinet promised “decisive action” in light of the findings of Kroll and Gaffney Cline. Petrotrin officials remained mum on what that decisive action would be yesterday.

Company officials yesterday declined to say whether the employee alleged to have colluded in the so-called fake oil matter was on the job or still on leave.


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