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Sunday 22 October 2017
Politics

Energy Minister to let ‘due process take place’

ENERGY MINISTER Franklin Khan was due to receive yesterday afternoon the final report on the internal audit investigation into alleged discrepancies in production data involving Petrotrin and A&V Oil and Gas Limited after which he will consider its recommendations.

Answering questions at yesterday’s Senate sitting, Khan said, the report was finalised and was to be forwarded to him “for my attention this (yesterday) afternoon.”

Asked if he had received the August 17 report, from which UNC Political Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar on Sunday alleged that lease operator, A&V Oil and Gas Ltd had inflated its oil production figures and defrauded state-owned Petrotrin of about $100 million, Khan said, prior to the August 17 internal audit report, Petrotrin had submitted on August 4 an initial report to him “indicating that they have been recorded discrepancies in the volumes of oil shipped from the Exploration and Production Department to the volumes of oil received at the refinery. Petrotrin has also reported that an internal audit was commissioned.

Procedurally, he said, the internal audit report would go to the audit committee of the board for its review and then to the full board for its consideration, deliberation and course of action to be taken. However, the report was leaked over the weekend, he said, and it is now in the public domain. The leak, he said, has gotten the whole population anxious as to what will happen but he cannot breach due process. He will await the submission of the report which he expects with a covering letter from Petrotrin.

Petrotrin’s board, he said, met urgently on Tuesday and Wednesday to consider the findings of the report.

Asked what steps he intends to take in dealing with the matter, Khan said, “to let due process take place.”

The audit committee of the board and the board have considered the report, he said, “and they in their own judgement will determine what further actions or investigations are needed. At this point in time, I cannot intervene and I will not intervene.”

He was aware, he said, that Petrotrin had stopped payments in the amount of US$6 million to A&V for June and July when the audit was being conducted and pending the outcome of the investigations.

Asked if the matter was referred to the Fraud Squad, he said, no such decision was taken by the board of Petrotrin.

“When the board makes its recommendations to the minister, I will deliberate on it and consider what our options are, and I will so decide.”

Asked if he intends to refer it to the Office of the Attorney General, the line minister for the Anti Corruption Bureau, he said, “the report was leaked by I don’t know who, and it doesn’t matter at this point in time. Due process.”

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