Libya’s prosecutor’s office is investigating possible irregularities in crude sales to oil giants China International United Petroleum & Chemical Co., or Unipec, and PetroChina Co., as part of a broader probe into oil deals made during the regime of Moamaar Gadhafi.
News of the investigation, reported by Benoit Faucon and Summer Said at Dow Jones Newswires, came via a document attached to an international arrest warrant issued by Interpol against Libya’s ex-oil minister Shokri Ghanem alleging he agreed to sell oil without contracts to Sinopec and Petrochina.
Spokespeople for the companies declined to comment to Newswires.
Ghanem was found dead April 29 in Vienna, and an autopsy showed he drowned. However, a spokesman for the Vienna prosecutor’s office said it had yet to reach final conclusions about his death, according to a separate Newswires report.
The separate report lays out the language of the Interpol notice, an Arabic-language document dated April 25 that was a special request for any member of Interpol to arrest Ghanem.
That document said Ghanem stood accused of “fraud of public money…causing intentional damage to public money..interfering in incomes…making illegal gains and abuse of power.” He had protested his innocence, however.
Libyan rebels that deposed Gadhafi had said Chinese companies would be at a disadvantage because Beijing opposed the foreign intervention that led to them gaining power. Oil officials have previously said companies that got deals through corruption under Gadhafi also could lose them under the new regime.
However Unipec, the trading unit of China’s largest refiner Sinopec, has now returned to Libya as one of the country’s largest oil buyers, the Newswires report said.
The Libyan Interpol document said the issues surrounding the sales to PetroChina and Unipec were first raised by Najwa el-Beshti, who was head of contracts at Libya’s National Oil Co.’s marketing department under Ghanem.
Beshti told Newswires the sales had taken place between June 2008 and 2010, the report said.
(Source: Wall Street Journal)