Wednesday, August 12, 2015
MOGADISHU (HOL) ----Somalia’s government has denied claims by the United Nations monitoring group that it received large sums of payoffs from the British Oil company Soma Oil which is being probed by the UK government for corruption.
UK’s Serious Fraud Office said it opened a criminal investigation into the company in a matter related to corruption in Somalia. The Monitoring group has also alleged that the oil firm has paid illegal salaries to staffers at Somalia’s petroleum and mineral ministry.
In a statement issued Wednesday, the ministry said the group’s findings are indirect eye-opener that the ministry itself is indeed corrupt which it denied as ‘baseless’.
The ministry affirmed that all salaries the British Oil firm paid to its staffers were sent through the officially authorized channel: central Bank.
In the report, the UN monitoring group said that ministry staffers diverted payments into a privately-held ministerial account in contravention of FGS regulations, and that it indeed attempted to have Soma direct its funding into this account.
Nevertheless, the ministry has reassured that it pioneered improving public services and implemented accountability within the government institutions.
The monitoring group further described how the misuse of capacity building in the SOMA context fits within a broader pattern of misconduct and misappropriation at the ministry.
Many major oil companies withdrew from Somalia in the early 1990s when civil war began.
According to the company website, Soma Oil and Gas was founded in 2013 to "pursue oil and gas exploration opportunities in Somalia", according to the BBC.