Texas-based oil and gas exploration company, Kosmos Energy, which is also one of the stakeholders in Ghana’s largest oil field, the Jubilee oil field is being investigated for corruption by US and Ghanaian officials the Financial Times (FT) reports.
According to the report, the authorities are looking into allegations of a relationship involving Kosmos and its local partner EO that helped the US oil company to secure control of the Jubilee oil field.
The case, the FT says risks complicating efforts by Kosmos Energy to sell its stake in the Jubilee oil field to another Texas-based US oil company, ExxonMobil in a deal valued at $4 billion. Kosmos has however denied any wrongdoing.
EO is a company owned by two political allies of former president John Agyekum Kufuor who handed over power to current president John Atta Mills after the elections of 2008.
Citing people close to the case, the FT says Ghana is preparing to file criminal charges against EO. The US justice department is also understood to be probing the relationship between EO and Kosmos, although the department on Thursday declined to confirm or deny this, it added.
A California-based lawyer working for the Ghanaian investigation, Duke Amaniampong told the FT that Ghana’s attorney-general had accumulated “enough evidence of criminal culpability to bring charges against the EO group and its directors”.
The charges would include “causing a financial loss to the state, money laundering and making false declarations to public agencies”, a person in the attorney-general’s office told the FT.
Ghanaian officials believe EO used its links with government officials to secure favourable deals for itself in the country’s nascent oil industry, but they have denied this saying they have conducted all their activities lawfully.
EO was set up by a Houston-based businessman, George Owusu, who was Kosmos’s representative in Accra and Kwame Bawuah Edusei, a doctor and supporter of Mr Kufuor who was later appointed as ambassador to Washington.
The group has a 3.5 per cent stake in the offshore oil block where Kosmos first found commercial quantities of oil in 2007. EO, whose stake could be worth more than $200m, initiated the deal which brought Kosmos into Ghana three years earlier, the FT said.
Kosmos had put up for sale its stake in the Jubilee oil field, said to contain about 1.8 billion barrels of oil according to Tullow Oil the majority stakeholders. It also has 17 wells. It is the largest oil field to be found in West Africa in the last 10 to 15 years. Commercial production of oil in the field is expected to begin this year.
A sale agreement between Kosmos Energy and ExxonMobil in October was halted by the Ghanaian government which has since indicated its interest in buying the stake.
By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi