Business News of 2014-06-27

Plot to get SOPCL’s licence withdrawn uncovered

The persistent negative portrayal of Saltpond Offshore Producing Company Limited (SOPCL), fully Ghanaian-owned Oil Company, in the media is part of a plot to get the government to withdraw its operating licence and sell it off, GNA investigations have uncovered.

The plot involves an international business tycoon; a Ghanaian-owned bank; a very influential businessman, whose names are being withheld for the time being, and the Project Manager of SOPCL, Mr Kennedy Oham, a Nigerian National, who has been dismissed.

The plot, which was hatched about four years ago, started with the writing of letters to the National Security Organisation (NSO) alleging SOPCL’s non-compliance with the laws of Ghana upon which NSO sent a press statement to GNA declaring its intention to begin investigations into the operations of the Company. SOPCL was not found culpable after the investigations and continued to operate.

Documents sighted by GNA showed that Mr Oham, who was in effect the officer in charge of trading SOPCL’s crude oil, acted beyond his powers, by assuming the role of a Director of the Company without having the requisite permission directly from Mr Quincy Sintim-Aboagye, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) or any other Board Member.

Mr Oham formed a company called Eklipza Energy, which masqueraded as a local subsidiary of Lushann Energy International, parent company of SOPCL, even though there was no such basis or existing contract guarding such a relationship.

It said with the help of the Cooperate Department of a Ghanaian-owned bank, Mr Oham managed to use Letters of Credits (LCs) obtained from first class international banks for Lushann, for their own personal activities. They used SOPCL’s LCs to issue Bank Guarantees directly to Kijani Energy Resources; a Gibraltar-based company, without the consent and approval from Lushann.

The Document said Cooperate Guarantees, contracts, term sheets and other official documents, which purportedly emanated from the offices of Lushann, bore the forged signatures of the CEO.

However, in a letter reacting to his dismissal, Mr Oham denied forging the signature of the CEO. He said: "I signed on behalf of Lushann International under my name, and not as the CEO, under no circumstance did I forge the CEO's signature."

He concluded: "Above all, Eklipza Energy Limited has not denied receipt of the fund, and are actually discussing with Kijani Resoureces Limited to affect repayment."

Mr Sintim-Aboagye confirmed the authenticity of the documents and said official complaint has been filed at the Economic and Organised Crime Office, The Ghana Police Criminal Investigation Department and The Bureau of National Investigations.

He said the deal came to his notice when a London law firm wrote on behalf of Kijani to Lushann to demand the refund of 4.8 million dollars it had paid to Eklipza.

It may be recalled that SOPCL has been variously accused of breaching the laws of Ghana in the media, including non-payment of rentals and corporate tax, when indeed it had 13 million dollars corporate tax credit and had paid its royalties and surface rent up-to-date.