UNC political leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar has alleged that a lease operator contracted by Petrotrin to supply its Pointe-a-Pierre refinery with crude oil has defrauded the company of almost TT $100 million by inflating its oil production figures.
Addressing a meeting of the party’s National Congress at the Couva South constituency auditorium yesterday, Persad-Bissessar also alleged that the lease operator was a financier of the ruling PNM administration and had close ties with senior Cabinet officials.
Before a hushed crowd of supporters, which hung on her every word, Persad-Bissessar claimed that the information was contained in an internal audit report from the state owned oil company.
And reading from the document, she said: “In July this year, Petrotrin discovered there was a significant difference between the quantity of oil it was purchasing from (name called) and what was actually being received at the refinery.”
“It was short by 400,000 barrels of oil,” she said, adding, “What was being sold to Petrotrin was not matching with what was being received.”
“In the opinion of the audit team, this purchase of non-existent crude, this purchase of fake crude oil from (name called) is the main factor to Petrotrin receiving less oil than the volumes being recorded by the production department,” she stated.
“Petrotrin has been paying the operator for oil it has not produced, they have been paying for fake oil,’ she said.
“I want to announce today that I intend to write to the Commissioner of Police, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the head of the Fraud Squad, and the Integrity Commission enclosing copies of this report and requesting that immediate criminal investigation be commenced into the actions of those responsible for this fraud being perpetrated on the people of our country to the tune of almost 100 million dollars,” she said.
She also called for the removal of Energy Minister Franklin Khan saying this had taken place while he was the line minister and had not taken any action against the operator. She also wondered whether this was the reason behind the sudden resignation of Petrotrin chairman, Andrew Jupiter and the installation of a new board at the state owned company.