Information gathered by the Republic newspaper indicates a carefully planned plot at the Bulk Oil Storage and Transport (BOST) to discredit the operations of Bulk Oil Distribution Companies (BDCs) in the country in a bid to allow BOST gain a better foothold in petroleum product importation.
Sources close to this paper have revealed some BDCs may soon drag BOST to court because they are convinced that the Managing Director of BOST, Awuah Darko was instrumental in the recent release of a purported tape recordings of some BDCs officials purportedly stating how they were actively bribing BOST officials to help them siphon petroleum products clandestinely from petroleum stock held by BOST.
Along with the leaked tape is an uncompleted Ernst and Young audit report which BOST?s top officials are claiming indicts the BDCs. The recent leaked information from BOST indicates that BDCs have stolen up to 2.1billion liters of petroleum from BOST.
However, according to Senyo Hosi, the Chief Executive of the Chamber of BDCs in a press statement released on Monday April, 23, 2015, BOST is deceiving the public because BOST?s total storage capacity is 425 million litres, adding that since mid 2009, BOST has never had its own petroleum products in stock; all the stock it held belonged to BDCs, so it would be curious for the BDCs to be robbing their own products.
In what he described as a ?selective voice recording?, Mr. Hosi is accusing the BOST MD of deliberately leaking a tape that has no relevance to the issue of BOST being robbed of petroleum stock.
According to him, the tape is a confidential recording of his ?testimony given three years ago before a ministerial committee- the Agbenator Committee-, set up to look into complaints lodged by Petroleum Service Providers (PSPs) of extortion by some BOST officials some time ago.
?We were the victims and not the accomplices. The recording was formally done and was not a secret tape?the tape being circulated was not in any way related to the BOST stock audit. There is therefore no confession to the allegations associated and concocted in respect of the stock audit,? the press statement read.
The tape is said to have been held in confidence by the Ministry of Petroleum and other committee members under an oath of secrecy. ? The recording was made available to the MD of BOST by the Ministry upon his assumption of office. It is an indictment on the Ministry of Petroleum that the recording, bound by oaths of secrecy, was leaked to the media only after making a copy available to the MD of BOST,? the BDCs boss challenged Mr. Awuah Darko.
?In a quest to deliberately malign my reputation and that of the members of the Chamber, a selectively leaked tape is being circulated so as to create the impression that the accusations of bribery to connive and rob BOST was true. I wish to state that neither my office nor person was involved in the audit process or any of the reconciliations that BDCs carry out with BOST monthly.
Information gleaned by this paper indicates that in April 2015, BOST in letters signed by the Managing Director Awuah Darko, made ?some outrageous claims? against 8 BDCs whose stock balances with BOST, E & Y could not verify.
?The letter referred to a final audit report and tabled what it claimed were the established balances. This was dishonest and a false representation of the facts. There is no final audit report and no stock balances have been established in the draft report due to the inconclusiveness of evidence obtained by E & Y to recompile the balances,? Senyo Hosi fired.
?The report has in no way implicated any BDCs of having connived with any officials to perpetuate fraud or to rob BOST, out of 16 BDCs audited from a pool of 28 today, the draft audit report indicates that it obtained adequate information on 8 BDCs in respect of which the audit assigned higher stock balances,? Mr. Hosi explained in the statement.
The top hierarchy of BOST is reportedly knee-deep in this plot because they anticipate making huge personal profits if after the operations of the BDCs have been discredited, government will give them the requisite resources to directly import petroleum products into the country.
According to Senyo Hosi, the impression created that BOST officials were conniving with BDCs to rob the state of petroleum products cannot be true because all the petroleum stock currently being held by BOST is owned by the BDCs themselves and there was no way they could over-declare stocks to BOST because the system was manned by representatives from BOST, BDCs and international standards organization known in the petroleum sector as SGS.
?In any case, the suggestion that BDCs have overdrawn their position implies an inflation of our receipts into the BOST system or an understatement of deliveries out of the BOST system. This is not operationally and economically viable. The counter checks and balances built into the processes can hardly be circumvented. The reference document for establishing deliveries is an OUTTURN REPORT which is signed by a representative of BOST and an independent inspector representing both the buying BDC and the international supplier. The independent inspectors employed include SGS and Inspectorate whose international credibility is impeachable,? Mr. Hosi explained.
? In any case, the suggestion that BDCs have overdrawn their position implies an inflation of our receipts into the BOST system or an understatement of deliveries out of the BOST system. This is not operationally and economically viable. The outturn report serves as the reference document used in determining payments to the international oil suppliers, discharge fees to the mooring company and the storage fees to be paid to BOST. The higher the volume reported, the higher a BDC?s cost. It is therefore not in the interest of BDCs to entertain any form of overstatement,? he stated.
The Republic newspaper can confirm that in March of 2009, BOST commenced the process of depleting its remaining strategic stocks and by mid 2009, BOST did not have its own strategic stock, it relied on BDCs to stock the BOST reserves and currently, BOST owes BDCs in excess of US$1 billion.
? BDCs commenced the use of BOST facilities as rented storage depots with the discharged of petroleum products into the BOST system from the vessel MT Kraslava on March 20th 2009 and continue to use their facilities. BDCs pay BOST for the use of their facilities. It is therefore not possible for BDCs to drawdown on strategic stocks which did not exist. We simply could not take what BOST did not have,? Senyo Hosi explained.
Checks by this paper indicate that since 2009, BDCs have discharged about 1.8 billion gallons of petroleum products into the BOST system.
The BDCs are threatening to go to court over the allegation leaked by BOST officials, indeed Mr. Hosi hinted at this in his statement: ?It must however be known that this call does not stop any BDC willing to take any legal action against BOST to establish its liability and secure payments from BOST, to do so. While we call on the formation of the said committee, it is fair to understand that BOST will be liable for any accruing financial costs for delayed payments of its liabilities to BDCs,? he said.
Meanwhile, beside the possible legal action, the the Ghana Chamber of Bulk Oil Distributors is calling on President John Dramani Mahama to establish a presidential committee of inquiry to probe allegations of bribery and collusion between officials of BOST and the Chamber.
Mr. Hosi said, ?The issues raised are very serious issues and we humbly call on His Excellency the President and the Honourable?Minister of Petroleum to kindly constitute an investigative committee to look into the issues of reconciliation and allegations of bribery as well as the leakage of the confidential tape.
Source: The Republic