27,000 Gallons Of Gasoline Theft Unveiled Amid Investigation

Amidst the ongoing gasoline crisis faced by the Country, investigation by this newspaper have shown that while there have been operational loses of high volume over a period of 14 years at the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC), culminating into “bulk stock verification”, there was also an incident of theft.

The investigation showed that 27,000 gallons of gasoline were stolen from Tank (TX# 408) on June 20, 2012 on the grounds of the LPRC, which was allegedly masterminded by Mr. Mohammed Darblah, the former Operations Manager and who is currently serving as Petroleum Consultant at the LPRC.

In an interview with Mr. Aaron J. Wheagar, who served, at the time, as Deputy Managing Director for Operations yesterday via mobile phone, he admitted the “theft of 27, 000 gallons of gasoline” from the LPRC racks, which led him to constitute and authorize an investigative committee.

“Yes, when I was Deputy Managing Director for Operations, there was some investigation of theft and the theft occurred on the rack,” he said.

He failed to state the recommendations made against the accused, Mr. Mohammed Darblah. However, our investigation revealed that Mr. Mohammed Darblah was suspended for a period of four months. Though the 27,000 gallons of gasoline stolen was never restituted.

When asked, the accused – Mr. Darblah, also via mobile phone he said: “It is not to his knowledge.” The phone was cutoff. Documents of this theft speaks to the contrary.

Following the acute shortage of gasoline in the country, the LPRC has been hit by grave allegations of long standing theft of gasoline and operations loses of high volume.

There have been several calls from both the opposition and ruling establishment to launch an intensive investigation into the situation between theft and actual operational loses.

In a communication (memo) in the possession of this newspaper, the then Deputy Managing Director for Operations at LPRC, Aaron J. Wheagar, constituted and authorized a five-man specialized investigation team to probe the “bulk stock verification” covering the period from 2010 – 2014.

The five-man specialized investigative committee included Mr. Bobby G. Brown (Chairman) and the members were Mr. Joseph B. Dennis, Charles Sherman, LeelarDymacole and Albert Tarpeh.

The job of the committee was spell-out in consonance with the communication from the then LPRC DMD for Operations: “In 2010, a committee headed by SarleeSartee, II, then Maintenance Manager reported the difference between the book stock and the bulk stock in our shore tanks.

In 2012, Universal Surveyor Incorporated also confirmed that there is a disparity between the actual stock in the tanks and the importer’s stock balances. And On April 17, 2014, Compliance also came up with a report that showed a huge difference between bulk stock and the importer’s stock balances.”

Mr. Wheagar, furthered: “Considering the above reports, I request that you reconcile the importers balances and the bulk stock in the tanks and come out with the following: 1. Contributing factor(s) for the differences; 2. Recommend how to avoid reoccurrence and, 3. Propose to management how the difference should be handled.”

After about two months later, the specialized Investigative Committed reported on June 9, 2014 that among other things contributing to the variances, there was water drained of 4,113 gallons in TX# 407; and theft of 27,000 gallon of gasoline in TX# 408.

The reports confirmed the disparity in the Universal Surveyor Incorporated report between the actual stock in the tanks and the importer’s stock balances.

The  LPRC independent Intelligence and Investigation (I& I) which investigated the theft further said the cost of the stolen 27,000 gallons of gasoline should be defrayed on the LPRC and make Mr. Darblah to restitute the money or be sued.

President George M. Weah recently commissioned a special taskforce headed by TrokonKpui, Minister of state Without Portfolio to investigate and establish what caused an estimated 60 percent discrepancy between importers’ inventory reports of products at the LPRC and actual stock of products as its petroleum facilities.

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