Trafigura in oil scandal again!

TRAFIGURA was irregularly single-sourced to supply oil worth $28 million in a contract that was rejected by late President Michael Sata.

The contract was hastily executed during the period of national mourning on 12th November 2014, apparently “at a very high price” before the normal consultative procedures had been completed.

The oil was invoiced at a price much higher than the one offered by Dalbit Petroleum, a competitor.

Instead of an “M-1” price Trafigura demanded and apparently obtained a price pegged at September/October when the prices of oil were still high on the oil market

The recent shortage of fuel is apparently the result of differences arising from queries raised by the Government with Trafigura, which allegedly withheld a feedstock vessel, not to discharge its cargo in Dar es salaam until they were paid the “extortionist money” a charge Trafigura has denied.

Apparently President Edgar Lungu and Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda refused to pay the inflated bill and in retaliation Trafigura refused to move oil from the Port of Dar-es-Salaam, resulting in the shortage.

The Government is now investigating how Trafigura was single-sourced to provide the expensive oil when there were more viable and reasonably priced sources available.

A Trafigura representative, a Mr. Guillaume Lettessier resident in South Africa was at Police Headquarters in Lusaka for three hours sometime this week, recording a statement,” the source revealed.

The highly placed source revealed that Mr. Lettessier was considered a flight risk and the team investigating him attempted to impound his passport but faced strong resistance from his lawyers who had promised to bring him back.

Former Mines, Energy and Water Development permanent secretary Charity Mwansa who was sacked after President Lungu assumed office, is expected to appear before the investigative wings while her director Charles Mulenga is reported to have given his statement.

It is understood that pressure was applied by “people” from outside Government to illegally and irregularly award Trafigura the contract to supply petroleum products to Zambia during the funeral of president Sata for the purpose of raising campaign funds for a named candidate.

It has been learnt that after the US$28 million contract was awarded, the price was adjusted which was going to see Government and the people of Zambia lose K205 million.

Sources have said the scandal bordered on economic sabotage and that the investigative wings were almost concluding the investigations and arrests of the suspects would soon be effected.

When contacted ACC public relations manager, Timothy Moono confirmed that the commission was investigating some aspects of procurement of oil by Trafigura.  He could however not give details of the enquiry as this would jeopardise the enquiry.

Meanwhile Trafigura responded to queries through their lawyers Shamwana and Company confirming that the company had signed a contract on 12th November 2014. “Our clients response is that Trafigura confirms being awarded a contract for the amount of $28 million on 12th November 2014.  The product has already been delivered and the contract was approved by the required Zambian authorities, the ZPPA, and the Attorney General of the Republic of Zambia”

On allegations that the money from the contract was at the centre of confusion in the ruling party when the preferred candidate was not adopted, the lawyers stated, “Our client’s response is that Trafigura cannot comment on the internal politics of countries where we operate”.

Trafigura also refused to comment on questions of whether or not their South African Agent Guillaume Lettessier, had been questioned by security officers.

Trafigura described as totally false allegations that it had refused to supply oil, resulting in the shortage, despite having a letter of credit from government.  The lawyers said Trafigura had met its obligations on the contracts it had been awarded by the Zambian government and would continue to do so on present and future contracts.

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