A&V DRILLING – A VICTIM OF GROSS INCOMPETENCE AND RECKLESSNESS … …says a fiery Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj SC

On Saturday last attorney for A&V Drilling Com­pany Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj SC held a media con­ference before a battery of media personnel at his Law Chambers in San Fernando. He accused the former Petrotrin Board of being grossly incompetent in dealing with A&V Drilling and the fake oil matter. He even accused them of displaying a rush to judgment and a certain degree of reckless­ness.

The purpose of the media con­ference was to bring members of the public up-to-date in respect of the production of the oil contract which Petrotrin had with A&V and which contract Petrotrin had termi­nated based on an Internal Audit Report. Petrotrin’s Internal Audit Report which showed that A&V Drilling had overstated the volume of crude oil sold to the company. Based on the contents of that Report Petrotrin has also withheld some $80m for crude oil already supplied by Petrotrin
On September 10th 2017 Political Leader of the UNC, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, at a political meeting, based on findings from the Internal Audit Report, alleged that A&V had supplied fake oil to Petrotrin and had fraudulently collected some $95m in the process. The Political Leader also stated that A&V Drill­ing owner, Haniff Nazim Baksh, was a personal friend of Prime Min­ister Dr Keith Rowley, which the Prime Minister confirmed.

A&V’s lawyer contended that “the reports which Petrotrin has and which A&V lawyers have recently seen demonstrate that Petrotrin ought not to have termi­nated the contract and that there was no justification for Petrotrin to terminate the contract.” Ma­haraj further stated that “the information which A&V lawyers recently saw, therefore, shows be­yond a reasonable doubt that A&V did not supply fake oil as alleged by Petrotrin” but instead supplied real crude oil.
He was critical of Petrotrin’s sloppy investigations and stat­ed that the two firms on which Petrotrin relied on to terminate the contract – Kroll Consulting Limited and Gaffney Cline and Associates – left much to be de­sired especially since Cline did not conduct its own investigation.

Petrotrin had asked a third firm SGS Gulf Ltd to review the Internal Audit Report and the firm submitted its report on 22nd December 2017.

A third firm

What is interesting in that report, according to Maharaj, is that it con­cluded that Petrotrin ought to up­grade and modernise its equipment and that if it did not do so it “runs the risk of exposure and error and mis-measurement both of which are expensive and can dent the Company’s reputation.”
Maharaj concluded that the former Petrotrin Board of Direc­tors has to take full responsibil­ity for the substantial miscarriage of justice and will be liable to pay to A&V substantial damages amounting to over a billion dol­lars since Petrotrin had a duty based on the evidence to restore the contract even after it was ter­minated.
The former Board comprised the discredited Wilfred Espinet, Chairman, Reynold Ajodhas­ingh, Deputy Chairman, Anthony Chan Tack, Nigel Edwards, Joel Harding, Selwyn Lashley, Eu­stace Nancis, Linda Rajpaul and Randhir Rampersad.

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