Former Energy Minister Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan is challenging the position adopted by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to await confirmation of the findings of the preliminary Internal Audit Report on the Petrotrin “fake oil” controversy, before sending it off to the Fraud Squad for investigations.
Seepersad-Bachan contended that from the report which unearthed evidence of a discrepancy in the supply of crude oil to the amount for which it was billed, “it is clear that criminal conduct occurred.”
She said in the face of it, there are criminal charges to be laid and any further delay may result in the tampering of evidence and implicated persons to cover their track.
She advised him to mandate the Board of Petrotrin to immediately forward the report dealing with the alleged fraudulent sales of indigenous crude oil, to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the Commissioner of Police (CoP).
PM Rowley said at Thursday’s post Cabinet meeting news conference, held at the Diplomatic Centre, that he hopes Petrotrin will appoint an independent investigator to examine the preliminary report. Once it confirms the preliminary findings, he said, it will go to the Fraud Squad, “and wherever else you want to send it.”
In a release Seepersad-Bachan challenged the position adopted by Rowley. She said, “the Internal Audit Report which establishes that there are two major players, one pretending to supply and one pretending to receive giving rise to fraud, should already have been shared with these authorities.
“It is clear that criminal conduct occurred. The bigger issue is – the number of players involved. Any further delay in submitting and dealing with the contents of the report may result in evidence tampering and give time for implicated persons to cover their tracks.”
She further advised, “The issue of fraud should not be confused with poor management and lack of due care and diligence, which provided the opportunity to commit this crime.
“Given its current financial crisis, Petrotrin cannot continue to court these types of disasters. Poor management practices allegedly allowed an employee to capitalise on procedural deficiencies and weak controls to perpetrate this crime. In this regard, the Board of Petrotrin should already have taken appropriate action against those who facilitated the offence.”