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Report on fake oil probe ready

The trinidad Guardian / Canadian forensic investigators Kroll Consulting is expected to hand in an investigative report to Petrotrin by the end of this week in connection with the so-called “fake oil” scandal in which the state oil company allegedly overpaid contractor A and V Oil and Gas almost US$12 million for oil which an internal audit committee alleged was never delivered to the company.

Petrotrin chairman Wilfred Espinet confirmed to the T&T Guardian that the consultant is expected to submit the report by tomorrow.

Although the investigation had been on going, Espinet said A and V as a contractor “is linked to the system, it is a joint venture partner and their production is linked to the system,” and is still supplying oil to the Company.

The company has a contract with the state oil company to drill, test and workover oil wells in the Catshill Block for the production of oil which is sold to Petrotrin.

An internal audit was triggered when it was allegedly found that in June and July the company paid for oil which it did not receive. The internal audit committee report identified an employee who was involved in the process. That employee was subsequently sent on leave.

The audit committee report, dated August 17, found that crude oil supplies from the Catshill Field spiked by over 150 per cent in a ten-month period and that the state oil company paid for oil which was never received.

Opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar was sued by A and V Oil and Gas owner Nazim Baksh for making the contents of the interim report public.

On Tuesday, as she addressed the National Congress of the United National Congress, Political Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar raised concerns that “the lease holder in question is to be paid for fake oil while there is an on-going investigation.”

She alleged that both Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, who has admitted to knowing Baksh, and Energy Minister Franklyn Khan made phone calls in the last two weeks to Baksh, and that they are “going to pay him for the fake oil.”

Persad-Bissessar sought answers from the Prime Minister on the issue: Is it true that you made phone calls to the gentlemen in the last two weeks?” She alleged that she had “phone records eh so be careful how you answer the question.”

“Did you make phone calls to the lease holder AV drilling in the last two weeks Prime Minister and Minister Franklyn Khan? Because the talk is now they are going to pay him and were those calls to ensure to tell him don’t worry bestie don’t worry you are my friend you know.”

Espinet refused to comment on the claims made by Persad-Bissessar on the platform about the payment.

But source said that Petrotrin retained part of the payment owed to A and V pending the investigation by Kroll and while the two parties had been in discussion there had been no decision for payment.

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