Financial and administrative corruption at the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) cannot permit the normal running of the entity in the absence of a comprehensive audit, New Democrat understands the Special Presidential Committee, which probed the ExxonMobil scandal has advised President George Weah.
The committee wants a forensic investigation into how contracts were signed, administrative decisions made and questionable financial transactions effected from the start date of the company.
Until the audit is concluded, the President has been implored according to official insiders not to appoint anyone to at the oil company.
NOCAL for the first time in more than a decade hit bankruptcy in 2015 due to financial mismanagement and waste.
The Current Exxon investigations showed some former and current officials received more than US$300,000 as illegal reward after concluding Petroleum Sharing Contract with the US oil company.
Thousands of Liberians could have been lifted from poverty had revenue accrued from the commercial activities of the now dead National Oil Company of Liberia, prudently used for socio-economic development programs and projects.
NOCAL from the unset of its establishment shows promising signs of being engine of the national economy, creating job opportunities, with stimulating effect on businesses.
But with time, that earlier booming light had dazzled the country’s poor and fatten the pockets of select elements of the Johnson-Sirleaf administration.
This paper has seen and obtained documents pointing to poor management decisions apparently designed to stealthily loot the company under the guise of providing motivating salaries and benefits to ‘well trained and educated officials for efficiency and productivity’.
For instance, besides the company’s hefty salaries payment made to executive management team and Board members, NOCAL was spending US$2.1 million annually on fuel and gasoline coupons for senior officials.
Should this amount had been utilized in the form of a cash transfer to farmers, household and Small Medium Enterprises , it would have most likely pushed a good size of the population out of the poverty zone (living on less than a dollar a day) with immense stimulating effect on the economy.
But the officials from examination of documents were dumping the oil in their pockets.
For example if an official is allotted 800 gallon of gasoline, he/she will prefer collecting the cash value on a monthly basis instead of using the allocated supplied quantity.
Such benefit or petroleum sharing scheme denies assurance that fuel coupons were provided on operational need basis but wealth accumulating motive.
The national oil company has no outstation activities except tourist visit on sea to sight oil drilling equipment and a few technical persons who performed field tour. Yet such tour is not carried out at individual cost but company fuel coupon line.
So, it is with this wasteful arrangement that Vida Mensah the former Vice President for Administration was collecting US$3,267 value of gasoline and fuel oil. She was receiving routinely US$2,767 of that amount in cash and 500 in product.
Mr. Jacob Kabokole was receiving US$3,267 worth of gasoline while ex Board Chair Cllr. Saward Cooper was allotted US$5,500 gasoline but received amount in cash monthly. Retired Company President and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Randolph McClain was given US$4,114 gallon of gasoline but like other officials collected the full amount in cash besides his reported US$20,000 monthly salary.
Also benefiting from the oil bonanza is Vice president for finance Mr. Kamo D. Ville who is receiving US$3,267 gasoline.
Mr. Robert A. Sirleaf the ex pro bono Chairman and CEO of NOCAL was receiving 1000 gallon of gasoline valued at US$4,6010 per month.
It is this type of expenditure that President Ellen Johnson-0Sirleaf has publically expressed distaste for terming it as extremely extravagant and wasteful.
NOCAL in end has grounded with no meaningful contribution to the economic agenda of the Johnson-Sirleaf administration. Economic crimes and financial investigations are ongoing.
This paper has earlier reported that based on historical financial records it is easy to conclude on why and how NOCAL melted into bankruptcy coupled with the identification of the hands that looted the company.
For instance, US$700,000 of the company’s fund was used to purchase three acres of wet land for the BYC Football Club situated at the rear of the Kalando Gas Station in the Congo Town community.
BYC is the private football club, which Robert Sirleaf – the son of the President owns. Mr. Sirleaf was Chairman of the Board of Directors at NOCAL during the purchase.
The New Democrat understands that the Ministry of Public Works and the Environmental Protection Agency have ruled that the wet land in question is a prohibited area for construction. The land was bought to build a football stadium for BYC. There is no evidence that the transaction was done in accordance with the Public Procurement and Concession law.
Also US$100,000 was spent to acquire a bullet proof vehicle for Mr. Sirleaf while there was a one time air ticket/travel reimbursement of US$24,000 to Mr. Sirleaf.
With respect to the 2014 failed oil bid round, record shows that Us$500,000 was spent for air tickets and DSA (Daily Sustenance Allowance). This amount was used when the country was in need of funding to combat the Ebola Virus Disease public health disaster that more than 5,000 Liberians.
The total amount of US$200,000 has been spent since 2013 on the travel expense of the current chair of the interim management team at NOCAL – Cllr. Althea Sherman.
Mr. Joseph Kabakollie the former Board member now heading communication told the New Democrat to write a letter to NOCAL outlining the press inquiry before official comments are provided.
– Festus Poquie