Findings from review of Block 13 deal in Liberia submitted

Barry Morgan |

Global Witness Indictees

Liberia’s President George Weah this week insisted he would implement the findings of the Special Presidential Review Committee following an inquiry into corruption allegations surrounding the award of prized Block 13 to ExxonMobil, writes Barry Morgan.

Rights watchdog Global Witness alleged malfeasance by officials under several regimes before the farm-out by Canadian Overseas Petroleum Ltd to ExxonMobil.

The US supermajor later relinquished the asset.

Weah agreed to investigate the deal, appointing a five-member panel which has now reported its conclusions.

Weah told a Cabinet retreat in Grand Bass County that those held accountable by the committee may be prosecuted.

Campaigners named several officials responsible for oversight of this transaction.

These include former National Oil Company of Liberia chief executive Randolph McClain, ex-Nocal chairman Robert Sirleaf — son of former president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf — National Investment Commission chair Natty Davis, Mines Minister Patrick Sendolo and former justice minister Christine Tah.

ExxonMobil was “undeterred by the red flags” hinting at corruption and proceeded to structure the deal in a way that would skirt US anti-corruption laws, according to an earlier report by Global Witness.

“It’s appalling that an oil giant like ExxonMobil would buy up an oil block they knew was tainted by corruption — morally dubious corporate behaviour which is particularly shocking in Liberia, where endemic corruption continues to rob people of opportunities,” said Global Witness senior campaigner Jon Gant.

However, the US supermajor denied doing anything wrong, saying: “ExxonMobil has an unwavering commitment to honest and ethical behaviour… the process of this transaction was transparent, and the terms of the production sharing contract are publicly available.”

Source: Upstream Online

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