UN body urges So­ma­lia to probe UK oil con­tract

The Pak Banker - - BUSINESS -

NEW YORK: A UN sanc­tions com­mit­tee wants So­ma­lia to open a cor­rup­tion in­ves­ti­ga­tion af­ter un­cov­er­ing ev­i­dence that Bri­tish oil firm Soma may have paid off sev­eral So­mali civil ser­vants un­der a 2013 con­tract. The ev­i­dence came in a 28-page re­port by the UN's So­ma­lia and Eritrea mon­i­tor­ing group and listed 14 em­ploy­ees of So­ma­lia's petroleum and min­eral re­sources min­istry who al­legedly re­ceived pay­ments rang­ing from $1,600 to $36,000 from Soma.

It also said six of­fi­cials on Soma's pay­roll drew civil ser­vant salaries and that nearly $500,000 was paid to Cana­dian lawyer J. Jay Park as an in­de­pen­dent le­gal ad­vi­sor to the min­istry. A let­ter drafted on Mon­day by the chair­man of the UN's So­ma­lia-Eritrea Sanc­tions Com­mit­tee, Venezue­lan Am­bas­sador to the UN Rafael Ramirez, called on So­ma­lia to in­ves­ti­gate. In 2013, Soma, chaired by for­mer Bri­tish Con­ser­va­tive Party leader Michael Howard, won a lu­cra­tive con­tract to sur­vey So­ma­lia's south­ern and cen­tral coast, and it later se­cured the rights to ex­plore 12 off­shore oil and gas blocks. The deal raised hopes of re­viv­ing So­ma­lia's oil and gas in­dus­try, on hold for decades dur­ing civil war and years of Is­lamic in­sur­gency. But the sanc­tions com­mit­tee let­ter, seen by AFP, re­quests that So­mali author­i­ties "promptly in­ves­ti­gate and un­der­take pros­e­cu­tions, where ap­pro­pri­ate, of in­di­vid­u­als and en­ti­ties found to have been en­gaged in mis­ap­pro­pri­a­tion of public re­sources in vi­o­la­tion of the So­ma­lia sanc­tions regime."

The re­port stated that "the (mon­i­tor­ing) group has ob­tained ev­i­dence de­mon­strat­ing that Soma has been mak­ing reg­u­lar pay­ments since June 2014 to civil ser­vants in the min­istry of petroleum and min­eral re­sources, some of whom were in­stru­men­tal in both se­cur­ing the com­pany's ini­tial con­tract and ne­go­ti­at­ing sub­se­quent agree­ments." Soma has de­nied any wrong­do­ing and said in a state­ment on Mon­day that the UN mon­i­tors had "fun­da­men­tally mis­un­der­stood the na­ture, pur­pose and des­ti­na­tion of the pay­ments made."

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