An ongoing spiral of the GHc15million dirty fuel scandal at the Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation Company (BOST) has reinvigorated suspicion that the managing director acted to rob BOST to pay cronies.
Mr. Alfred Obeng Boateng, the man caught in the thick of the scandal, appears to have used his position as MD to sell the 5million litres of fuel to a longstanding business partner of his – Nana Poku Agyemang.
Mr. Poku Agyemang is the man who had allegedly registered Movenpiina Energy 10 days after the company, which has no operational license from the NPA, had landed the sweetheart deal to cart away the 5million litres of fuel at open credit.
The spiraling scandal has also led to revelations that the BOST MD may have a fraudulent past which includes possibly being an electoral offender. He is also accused of being a flirt double-dealing with both the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC).
Further, the allegations have included claims that the embattled BOST MD is a gag artist who has used interdictions, coercion and money to silence staff of BOST who were not agreeable to his decision to sell the fuel to Movenpiina.
Over the weekend, The Republic heard from BOST sources about how Management had opened a register and forced junior staff of the company to append their signatures to a statement that had been released to defend the MD’s action.
According to the sources, who say they had signed the letter under duress, a failure to sign would have incurred dismissals, even as a General Manager and Trading Manager at BOST have already been interdicted for resisting the questionable sale of fuel.
Alhaji Haruna Rashid Ibrahim, Executive Director of Civil Society Group, Development Challenge, has also revealed that the BOST Management shared some GHc300,000 to staff of BOST to sweeten them into signing the statement defending the MD.
As the undercurrents of alleged manipulations run at BOST, the MD has since managed to pick up an award on behalf of the company and smiled neatly to the cameras, seemingly playing the part in a carefully-planned damage control.
The ruling NPP’s Majority side in Parliament has also since held a press conference and attempted what is seen as an equalization on the opposition NDC, citing a former MD of BOST as having also sold contaminated fuel.
Through the antics, President Nana Akufo-Addo appears to be sitting tight and hoping that the damage control will work to forestall his being constrained to fire the man who is alleged to have contributed some $2million to his campaign.
Unfortunately for the regime, however, the domestic antics are not helping the international damage to Ghana, as international airline operators are said to have been warned against refueling their planes in Ghana because of the BOST dirty scandal.
On the 29th of May, Mr. Alfred Obeng Boateng issued an instruction that 5million litres (1.3million gallons) of contaminated fuel be sold to Movenpiina Energy at open credit (meaning Movenpiina had the luxury to sell off the fuel and pay BOST later).
Sources have said that the 5million litres is worth some GHc15million, even though BOST credited it to Movenpiina at GHc5million.
Movenpiina, which had gotten the fuel at GHc1 per litre, went on to sell it to Zup Oil at GHc1.30p per litre. However, by the time Zup Oil had lifted 471,000 litres, it emerged that both Movenpiina and Zup Oil have no license from the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) to operate, therefore contravening Section 11 of the NPA law.
Following from that revelation, it emerged that Movenpiina had landed the deal to buy the contaminated fuel 10 clear days before it came into existence as a company on May 19, 2017.
It soon also emerged that Movenpiina, which had strangely asked to buy the fuel, and not even been sole sourced by BOST, had its official phone number linked to a private office of the BOST MD.
The ensuing lead has now brought about revelations that the man behind Movenpiina is Nana Poku Agyemang, an alleged longstanding business partner of the BOST MD.
As it became apparent that the Mr. Obeng Boateng had perpetrated self-dealing, it emerged that neither Movenpiina nor Zup Oil had the requisite storage space to store the 5million litres of contaminated fuel.
Again, in the wake of Zup Oil lifting 471,000 litres of the fuel, it has also emerged that off-spec fuel, which is supposed to be curtailed to industrial use, has hit the market, endangering car engines and respiratory health of citizens.
Clumsy damage control
An attempt at dousing the ensuing scandal saw the BOST MD claiming on radio, including Accra-based Atinka FM, that no contaminated fuel had hit the market and that their decision to sell off the 5million litres had been approved by the NPA.
African Center for Energy Policy (ACEP) has, however, revealed that some of ACEP’s own staff have personally purchased contaminated fuel at the pumps.
The NPA has also since decried the discovery that both Zupp Oil and Movenpiina do not have operation licenses from the NPA.
Meanwhile, experts have wondered how as much as 5million litres (1.3million gallons) of fuel could be accidentally contaminated, as BOST would have everybody believe.
It is as part of a tightening of the noose around the neck of Alfred Obeng Boateng that other uncomplimentary issues about him have emerged.
Mr. Obeng Boateng, a financier of President Akufo-Addo’s campaign in 2016, is said to have personally contributed $2million and raised up to $15million for the cause.
The NPP’s MP for Assin Central, Ken Agyapong, has since hinted that the cash contribution from Mr. Boateng was huge, saying he personally collected the contributions.
For his efforts, it is alleged that Alfred Obeng Boateng was indulged by President Akufo-Addo to choose where he wanted to work in the NPP government.
Out of many, Mr. Obeng Boateng is said to have cherry-picked BOST and waived other juicy positions, including Chief Executive of COCOBOD, as his leftover.
However, an apparent rush to recoup his investments into the Akufo-Addo campaign has ended up launching the nasty scandal on the NPP government.
Kennedy Agyapong, the Assin Central MP, who has been passionately defending Alfred Obeng Boateng has revealed that the man has been struggling to satisfy over 800 companies that members of the ruling party have formed to source contracts from BOST.
Again, Mr. Agyapong, who claims that the 5million litre fuel scandal is an orchestration by some jealous party people who covet the BOST MD’s position,, has hinted that the NPP rigged the 2016 elections, implying that Mr. Obeng Boateng was party to that electoral offence.
Mr. Agyapong has threatened to spill the beans about the NPP’s rigging scheme, if Alfred Obeng Boateng is not left alone.
An electoral offender
The linkage of that electoral offence to the BOST MD is poignant because this same Alfred Obeng Boateng is believed to have used his company, Approachers Printers Ghana limited, to print fake ballot papers that were used to stage a fake story in 2016. According to the alleged fake story, the then ruling NDC had made moves in Kumasi, to infiltrate ballot boxes with already thumb- printed ballot papers.
Those ballot papers were to later turn out to be fake, as supposed stamps of the Electoral Commission behind them were not in the official ink of the EC. Approachers printers was then fingered as the company behind the fake ballot papers.
Mr. Obeng has also been described as a double-crosser who had used his relationship with a regional chairman of the opposition NDC to land a juicy contract from the erstwhile Atta Mills government in 2012.
Mahama Ayariga, who was then a Deputy Minister of Education, had awarded Approachers Ghana Limited a $25million contract to supply Atlases to junior high schools as part of a $44million contract that he had awarded to five companies.
That contract had become a big scandal as the then opposition NPP had done everything to make the Mills Government look corrupt. Even so, Alhaji Rashid Ibrahim, a member of the opposition NDC, reveals that Mr. Obeng Boateng had leveraged his relative’s connection in the NDC to have the contract.
It is the same Obeng Boateng who would, allegedly, later, use that same company which was awarded the contract by the NDC to print fake ballot papers in an attempt to frame up the NDC in 2016.
Meanwhile, prior to his involvements with both the NPP and the NDC, the BOST MD had been involved in a nasty examination fraud at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) that cost him a Law degree.
The man, who had enrolled to read law, had cheated in a test and was expelled after he was caught flatfooted in the act of the examination malpractice. He would later go on to sue the KNUST but the court would uphold the actions of the university.
A problematic appointment by President Akufo-Addo
This revelation about Mr. Obeng Boateng has left people wondering why President Nana Akufo-Addo had still managed to go ahead to appoint him as the managing director of an agency as strategic, and yet, replete with juicy trappings of office as BOST.
The questionable sale of the contaminated fuel to Movenpiina and subsequent spill on to the market is said to have led to warnings to international airline operators to desist from refueling their planes in Ghana.
Even though in the whole of the West African sub-region, Ghana has the second lowest cost of aviation fuel, the Daily Nation of Kenya reports that airline operators have been warned to avoid Ghanaian aviation fuel because of the scandal.
This, according to the paper, is because unregulated emissions from planes flying above 3,000 feet are responsible for most deaths.
“People are harmed by the emissions from planes while taking off and landing, hence the need to prevent the use of contaminated aviation fuel,” the Daily Nation reports.
What is even more disingenuous is that after Mr. Alfred Obeng Boateng had sold the contaminated fuel, which people suspect BOST had intentionally contaminated, to his friend’s company, he told blatant lies to justify the sale.
A claim that the sale had been okayed by the NPA has since been debunked by the NPA, which has confirmed that both Movenpiina and Zup Oil do not have operating licenses from the NPA.
Another claim, that it would have taken 10 whole months just to re-blend the contaminated fuel has also been dismissed by sources from BOST itself, who have revealed that it would have taken only days to do a corrective re-blending.
The whole spiraling drama has led to the Minister of Energy, Boakye Agyarko, setting up an eight-member committee to investigate the scandal.
Majority MPs Ostrich dance
Meanwhile, a shocking attempt by the Majority in Parliament to water down the scandal has seen an open attempt at equalization, with the Majority claiming that BOST under the Management of the erstwhile NDC government had also sold contaminated fuel.
According to them, former MD of BOST, Kwame Awuah Darko, sold contaminated fuel to as many as 68 companies which had, similar to Movenpiina and Zup Oil, not been registered.
However, the claim has since turned out to be an advertisement of the ruling NPP Parliamentary Majority’s total ignorance about workings of the downstream petroleum sector after it emerged that Kwame Awuah Darko had never sold contaminated fuel.
Mr. Awuah Darko had only sold SLOP.
The difference between SLOP and contaminated fuel is that SLOP is an admixture of sediments, water and other impurities that settle at the bottom of fuel tanks on storage, while contaminated fuel is a mixture of two fuel varieties, such as petrol and diesel.
The records show that throughout the period that Kwame Awuah Darko was BOST MD, fuel contamination had happened only once, on December 24, 2013, three months after Mr. Awuah Darko had become MD.
To arrest the situation, the then MD had further blended the contaminated fuel until the contamination had been corrected and then moved on to sell the fuel at the prevailing market price.
Under Mr. Awuah Darko, only SLOP had been sold by BOST. According to the records, a total of 450,000 litres of SLOP had been sold from October 2013 to December 2015 and the sale had been done quarterly from SLOP tanks. The records show that the sale usually occurred when tanks of BOST needed to be cleaned.
All companies who bought SLOP products were required to present certificates from the NPA and EPA, along with Customs stamps, as conditions precedent.
The companies paid cash into BOST accounts and such payments were confirmed by BOST officials before loading. SLOP was also sold at the prevailing market price and not a flat price of GHc1. At a point SLOP was even sold at GHc1.50p.
The contrast with Alfred Obeng is that he has not sold SLOP, but sold contaminated fuel, at a questionable flat rate of GHc1, to an unregistered company that is linked to himself and has since lied that the NPA approved of the sale.
Awuah Darko ready to defend himself
A personal aide to Kwame Awuah Darko, Edward Combat, has since indicated that Mr. Awuah Darko is ready to face any enquiry if it becomes necessary.
Mr. Combat has however not revealed in interviews with the media whether Mr. Awuah Darko is considering suing Ken Agyapong, who has claimed that the former BOST boss had amassed some $100million from his days as MD at BOST.
Opportune Publicity for an embattled MD
Meanwhile, Alfred Obeng Boateng, last Friday night, braved the Movenpic Hotel in Accra to receive an award on behalf of BOST.
According to reports, BOST was adjudged the best Liquid Operator for 2016, an achievement of Mr. Obeng Boateng’s predecessor, Kwame Awuah Darko’s era; the same Kwame Awuah Darko that the Majority in Parliament tried to demonize to make Mr. Obeng Boateng look a bit better than the BOST scandal makes him out to be.
While receiving the award, the current BOST MD apparently did not miss the opportunity to show the usual plastic smiles that corporate CEOs in expensive suits love to flash on occasions like that.
That smile was very important show of courage by an embattled MD, who is under investigation by the Energy Ministry.
Source: therepublicnewsonline.com/Fiifi Samuels