/ 23 May 2013

PetroSA suspends top exec after R1bn scandal

Petrosa Suspends Top Exec After R1bn Scandal

Everton September, a vice-president in charge of the company’s new oil and gas ventures, was suspended on Tuesday, the Mail & Guardian has confirmed.

September faces questions over his role in PetroSA’s 2012 acquisition of a company with oil acreage offshore of Ghana, where he and former acting chief executive Yekani Tenza allegedly negotiated the price “in reverse” – costing South Africans R162-million extra.

Last month, the M&G exposed questions around this and PetroSA’s ongoing effort to buy out oil company Engen. Allegedly the company overpaid or needlessly risked about R1-billion on the deals.

PetroSA’s chairperson Benny Mokaba resigned on the back of the exposé, after apparently being told to go. And the company then cancelled its R187-million contract with a consultant firm that had been implicated.

The M&G also revealed evidence that kickbacks might have been paid in the Ghana deal.

The Hawks police unit is investigating PetroSA, and a probe by the Central Energy Fund, its holding company, is said to be complete.

Represented value for money
The parastatal and Tenza have defended the extra R162-million he and September agreed to pay for the Ghana acquisition, saying it still represented value for money.

The oil company has admitted to “some deviations from our normal procurement processes”.

On Thursday, PetroSA confirmed September’s suspension: “At its meeting on Tuesday, the PetroSA board resolved to suspend September as a precautionary measure. This is to allow an investigation to take place into various allegations. The suspension is intended to enable the investigation to take place without any possible perception of undue interference.”

September could not be reached for comment.

* Got a tip-off for us about this story? Email [email protected]

The M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism (amaBhungane) produced this story. All views are ours.

See www.amabhungane.co.za for our stories, activities and funding sources.