Gurmad statement on the criminal investigation of Soma Oil

Press Release

The Serious Fraud Office of the United Kingdom (UK) confirmed on July 31, 2015 that it has opened a criminal investigation into Soma Oil and Gas in relation to charges of corruption in Somalia. On July 1, 2015, Gurmad released a position paper on institutionalized corruption in Somalia and the role of international opportunists and corrupt Somali public officeholders. The Gurmad paper in part read: “Companies like the London-based Soma Oil and Gas (which is backed by the Russian oligarch Alexander Djaparidze), have inked offshore and onshore exploration deals despite the fact that Somali engineers involved with the East Africa Energy Forum have “spoken out against Soma’s ability to garner broad rights and privileges when its credibility and capacity is under scrutiny.”

Corruption in Somalia has become so profound that foreign governments have begun to hold perpetrators accountable while the complicit Federal Government of Somalia prefers, by its action or inaction, the status quo and continues to engage in meaningless denials to cover up acts of graft and institutionalized corruption instead of taking steps to hold Somali officeholders and foreign entities such as Soma Oil and Gas accountable.

Members of Gurmad are, therefore, compelled to make the following announcements:

1.   The Somali parliament must promptly nullify any contract signed with Soma Oil and Gas and demand the opening of an investigation of its associates and activities in Somalia.

2.   The Somali parliament must exercise its constitutionally mandated oversight duty and question all Somali officials and civil servants at all levels of government who participated in any way, shape or form in negotiating and concluding any deals with Soma Oil and Gas.

3.   The Office of the Attorney General (AG) must enlist the help of the Auditor General and other government agencies and international partners in uncovering evidence of corruption by government officials regarding the Som Oil and Gas contracts and, where wrongdoings are found, must institute proper charges against all perpetrators both domestic and foreign. Furthermore, the AG must also review all the international contracts entered into by Somalia thus far for the purpose of uncovering any acts of treason, corruption, graft, jobbery, and breach of public trust. Contracts and international agreements made pursuant to corrupt practices by the Federal Government officials or regional administrations must be declared null and void.

4.   Gurmad demands the Somali government to refrain from doing business with Soma Oil and Gas and similar entities that had been illegally awarded broad rights in oil exploration, fisheries, other natural resources, financial services and capacity building.

5.   Individuals and foreign corporations, including oil firms within the maritime boundary (incorrectly and maliciously referred to by some as “disputed”), should be put on notice that profits derived illegally, even if derived under the color of the law, will escheat to the Somali state once the rule of law catches up with them. Criminal investigations of their actions and corrption will be sought aggressively in the jurisdictions of their domiciles, their principal places of business and at the appropriate international investigative and adjudicatory forums.

6.   Gurmad reminds the United Nations, foreign governments- the government of Norway in particular-of their solemn obligation, under international law, to ensure that their agencies and companies are not used as instruments to perpetrate corruption in the current global scramble for Somali natural and maritime resources. Merely compiling monitoring reports or issuing diplomatically crafted condemnation statements do not relieve the United Nation’s Security Council of its legal duty to assist Somalia in protecting its natural resources and reducing and eventually eliminating corruption both within and outside of its borders.

7.   Gurmad emphasizes that Al Shabaab and other organized criminal groups are the benefactors of the rampant and widespread corruption within the Somali state. Moreover, the absence of a meaningful role by Somali public institutions, and the Somali parliament in particular, as well as the lack of effective national systems of accountability and checks and balances create an environment conducive to shady deals and corruption.

8.   Gurmad is convinced that perpetrators of crimes against Somalia and the Somali people will face justice sooner or later and therefore urges all Somali citizens to be vigilant and to collect evidence of all acts of graft for future prosecution.

Let it be known to the lords of corruption in the Horn of Africa and in the international chambers of power that Gurmad and Somalis of good conscious would not tolerate any corruption and misconduct- all too prevalent in past years and at present- that compromises the Somali national assets and interests.

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