Senegal judge closes gas corruption case

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The report alleged a company run by Sall, Agritrans, was given a secret payment of $250,000 by a gas company that sold shares in Senegalese gas fields to BP.
AFP | 2 January 2021 [FR]

[Eds: This news is relevant to farmlandgrab.org because for a while, media explored possible links between Agritrans and the new owners of Senhuile, « Les Fermes de la Teranga »]

Senegal judge closes gas corruption case

by Laurent Lozano

A Senegalese judge has closed a case, citing lack of evidence, of alleged corruption over the sale of gas contracts to British energy giant BP, media reports said.

The case made waves in the West African state after Britain’s BBC broadcaster named the brother of President Macky Sall in the investigation, sparking a public outcry.

Liberation daily published Friday a December 29 ruling by the examining magistrate finding insufficient evidence to continue an investigation begun in June 2019 into alleged wrongdoing including fraud, money laundering and criminal association.

The magistrate and public prosecutor’s office did not respond to an AFP request for information on the case.

Sall alluded to the case, however, in an interview with television reporters late Thursday.

“According to the report I have read the examining magistrate cannot incriminate or jail someone without proof of wrongdoing,” the president said.

Sall added he had personally called for the investigation after his younger brother Aliou Sall was named in connection with the case. Aliou Sall and BP have denied  wrongdoing.

The alleged connection with the president increased public interest in the case with the impoverished West African country  pinning great hopes on the recent discovery of hydrocarbon sources off its coast.

The report alleged a company run by Sall, Agritrans, was given a secret payment of $250,000 by a gas company that sold shares in Senegalese gas fields to BP.

In 2012, shortly before Sall took office, Senegal’s then government awarded energy exploration rights to Petro-Tim, a part of Timis Corporation, run by Romanian-Australian businessman Frank Timis, despite its lack of experience in the sector.

The investigation President Sall ordered concluded Petro-Tim should not receive the concessions but the deal went ahead.

The BBC reported BP bought Timis’s stake in the gas field for $250 million in 2017, adding the British energy giant would also pay Timis some $10 billion over 40 years in royalties — money which would otherwise accrue to the Senegalese state.

The examining magistrate heard evidence among others from Aliou Sall and found the allegations unproven, adding the contracts concerned predated the Macky Sall presidency.

The investigation had been instrumental in Aliou Sall’s June 2019 resignation from a state-run savings fund which he had headed since 2017.

He has stepped down from his job with the Timis group on a $25,000-a-month salary in October 2016 after being accused of a conflict of interest by the opposition
Original source: AFP
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