Fatik al-Rodaini | 28 March 2012 |
SANA’A: A senior official in Yemen National Tobacco Company criticized on Wednesday Yemen’s Supreme National Authority for Combating Corruption (SNACC) the decision was made to refer 4 of YNTC employees to the District Attorney’s office for failing to disclose financial statements.
Kamal Sheja’a Al-Deen, a high-ranking officer in the company said that SNACC’s latest decision was aimed at supporting the opposition’s propaganda against those still loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, and had nothing to do with combating corruption.
Sheja’a Al-Deen criticized the SNACC’s decision further by saying that the authorities were ignoring the huge financial cases involving well-known political figures, only interested in challenging minor cases as it politically suits them.
It is important to note that Tawfik Saleh Abdullah Saleh, one of Saleh’s nephews is the Head of the YNTC and has been for the past couple decades has built a fortune estimated at billions of dollars.
On Monday the Supreme National Authority for Combating Corruption (SNACC) gave orders to indict senior officials of the National Tobacco and Matches Company (Kamaran) on charges of corruption.
Moreover, allegations of corruption against Tawfik Saleh are now surfacing, with other multi-national companies in Yemen, the involvement of Schlumberger Ltd, an oil company, established in the country which handles several lucrative government contracts.
According to Schlumberger Ltd, Yemen’s Petroleum Exploration and Production Authority would have back in 2002 required senior management to hire Zonic Invest Ltd as a go-between in exchange for more tenders. Interestingly, Tawfik Saleh sits as Zonic Invest Ltd’s general director.
Schlumberger Ltd said it has agreed to hire Zonic, paying the company a $500,000 signing bonus, against assurances that their project in the country would get the needed governmental approval.
Dissensions appeared when Tawfik required from Schlumberger an additional 20% on its profits. The company refused to bow to pressure with the manager offering in exchange to compensate Zonic Invest Ltd through services.
It was decided Zonic would help with personnel, computer hardware, networking and furniture for a computing center.
In May 2004, a Schlumberger manager “resisted signing a contract with Zonic, but he started receiving threatening calls,” read a Schlumberger internal document dated December 2008. It said the threats stopped after the contract was signed.
Tawfik, as Zonic general director refuted all wrong doings, saying the allegations were circumstantial.
In an interview, he said Zonic was created as a lobbying and business-consulting firm specialized in the data project. “Schlumberger came to us for help. They had been trying for so many years to get the contract,” he said. “If it wasn’t for Zonic, there would have been no data-bank project.”
Three people familiar with the matter told Bikyamasr.com that some of the services Zonic provided in between 2001 and 2007 were either done at above-market rates or were unnecessary. For example, a Schlumberger invoice showed that the company had been charged for hardware it was itself selling to companies, clearly raising some questions.
Relations between the companies frayed in 2006 after disputes arose regarding invoices.
Schlumberger paid Zonic a total of $1.38 million from 2003 to 2007.
In 2008, Tawfik Saleh demanded even more money, saying the increase in process was reflective of the quality of services offered.
Schlumberger refused to pay up.
So far all government officials are refusing to comment on the matter.
Schlumberger compliance officers started to investigate in 2008 as they felt there had been violations of the company’s anti-corruption policy. However they established that since the issue was relatively old it was difficult to assess blame, deciding to put the entire matter to rest.
“Because of the age of the issues, it is not possible to confirm all the facts of the relationship with Zonic, “said Schlumberger’s legal team.