There was no cover up in the discovery of the shortage of oil and gas in the A&V Oil and Gas Company Limited “fake oil” issue and audits were commissioned to get to the bottom of the issue to protect Petrotrin’s commercial interest said Energy Minister Franklin Khan.
The board of directors of Petrotrin, he said, commissioned independent and external auditor, Canadian company Kroll Consultancy and global oil and gas auditors Gaffney, Cline & Associates.
“There was no issue of cover up. There was issue of due process,” he told yesterday’s Senate sitting on the Opposition UNC motion calling for the suspension of the contract of A&V.
Under normal circumstances, Khan said, the confidential and privileged internal audit report of January 2017 that was leaked by Leader of the Opposition Kamla Persad-Bissessar at a UNC meeting was being dealt with through due process.
The report from the head of Petrotrin’s exploration and production department, he said, informed the internal audit department that there had been an increasing monthly shortage of crude transferred from the exploration and production department compared to the volumes received at Pointe a Pierre. This had been occurring since August 2016.
Even though the document was leaked, Khan said, “It still remains at Petrotrin, privileged and confidential.”
He said, in spite of the findings of the reports from the two external auditors which audited the period January to July 2017 and were made public via Petrotrin’s press releases, the board has since commissioned Petrotrin’s internal audit department to widen the scope of its investigations into matters going back to 2016.
“Where is the cover up?” he queried.
Further to the two reports, he said, Petrotrin’s chairman, Wilfred Espinet, has confirmed that the company will be moving to take appropriate actions internally and to bring the matter to the attention of the relevant authorities.
Khan said Espinet had cautioned that, while the reports confirmed the discrepancies, it was critical for the board to exercise due care and deliberation on how it proceeded.
He quoted Espinet as saying, “While we plan to take decisive action we need to ensure that any claim or action we take is not impeded by a misstep. In this case doing it right is more important that doing it quickly.” Khan said it would be premature to articulate any specific action at this time as Petrotrin was working on it. He said, he received a legal brief from Petrotrin yesterday morning which said the matter “is at a very sensitive stage.”
At this time, Khan said, Petrotrin is taking legal advice and premature disclosures could derail Petrotrin’s legal position.