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Net closing on those linked to the illegal sale of key crude oil stock, MPs hear

Mar 13 2019 06:15
Lameez Omarjee

Once investigations into the illegal disposal of strategic crude oil stock wrap up, there will be consequences for those implicated, members of Parliament have heard.

The portfolio committee on energy was on Tuesday briefed on the annual report of the Central Energy Fund and its subsidiaries, which include national oil company PetroSA and the Strategic Fuel Fund (SFF).

Tseliso Maqubela, deputy director general for petroleum and petroleum products regulation the department of energy, responded to a question about the progress of an investigation launched into the sale of 10 million barrels of oil reserves by the SFF in 2015.

In addition to an investigation, the CEF had filed a court application in 2018 with the Western Cape High Court to set aside the sale on the grounds that the disposal was unlawful, invalid and unconstitutional.

If the court rules in favour of the CEF, then the SFF will have to repay the proceeds of the transaction, storage income received from buyers from the date of transfer, as well as interest earned and other associated costs, the CEF group submitted to the committee.

"The estimated total amount repayable at March 31, 2018 is R3.7bn, based on the prevailing foreign exchange rate between the rand and the $US," the report from the CEF read.

Speaking specifically to the progress of investigations, Maqubela said it was important to allow for the completion of the investigation and court process, so as not to "contaminate" some of the "glaring evidence".

'There will be consequences'

"We are confident that those investigations have been managed well. There will be consequences, the matter is before the courts," Maqubela said.

"We believe we are close to the end of the SFF matter and last thing we would need is someone getting off on technicalities," he said.

SFF board chair Neville Mompati also commented on the status of the forensic report, saying a first and second draft of the report had been received.

The investigation is almost complete, but there are three individuals "central to the report" who have not yet been interviewed by the forensic team, he added. The reports have been sent to them, but they need to give their accounts so that the investigation can be completed.

Mompati said one recommendation was that the matter be dealt with on a criminal level.

"We want to believe and hope the issue will go to court, not as a settlement issue but as a criminality issue," he told the committee.

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