The audit into the multi-million dollar loss at the National Petroleum Marketing Company (NP) began under the People’s Partnership and the man responsible “promptly resigned”.
Former NP chairman, Neil Gosine on Sunday responded to two Guardian Media reports that detailed the loss of money and gas oil at the State-enterprise.
Last Monday, Guardian Media reported that outgoing chief executive officer Bernard Mitchell referred to the financial hit and the audit in his goodbye email to staff. At that time Mitchell said that the NP paid over US$500,000 in that deal.
However when Guardian Media obtained a copy of that audit it revealed that NP was actually forced to write off more than $8 million on the soured deal with a non-existent Suriname-based company.
Gosine in a text message on Sunday said he was writing to “clear up some misinformation in the article”. His defence though seemed built on the fact that the board appointed by the People’s Partnership initiated the audit and not the PNM-appointed board.
This was never in dispute as, on Sunday, Guardian Media reported that the audit was launched in March 2015 but never specified under which Government.
Gosine said that “it was the PP Board in late 2014 that launched the investigation which included the internal audit and took action upon receipt of the report.
“This was not done by the PNM board. What the PNM board did is write off the debt in 2019 under the current/outgoing CEO,” Gosine said.
He said that the “previous board was not to blame for this loss”.
“The then general manager, business venture failed to follow proper procedure and due diligence and failed to obtain the relevant board approvals. Disciplinary action was initiated and warning letters were issued,” he said.
“The PP’s board instructed NP’s management to take the necessary steps to locate the directors of the Black Gold in Guyana and to commence legal proceedings for breach of contract,” he said.
“I am at a loss to understand the nexus between the internal conflict between the current chairman and current outgoing CEO and the action taken by the previous board of directors,” he said.
“Such an implication of wrongdoing is without merit as everything was done above board and in accordance with proper procedure,” Gosine said.
On Sunday, Guardian Media reported that the audit showed that the Suriname-based Black Gold, was less than three months old and yet was still able to get over $4 million in bunker fuel from State-owned NP for free in 2014.
The company was registered in Suriname in January 2014 and by March was in discussions with NP for the sale of gas oil outside of T&T, which was not part of NP’s business purview.
By 2019, the state company suffered an additional loss of over $3 million in finance charges on that same bad deal before the company decided to write off the loss.
According to the audit, NP was left holding the following multi-million bag:
•Sale US $633,661.64
•Finance charges US $584,572.87
•Total loss US $1,218,234.51.
The current board took the decision to write off that multi-million loss after being unable to locate the Suriname-based company since the date of the deal.