What you need to know:
- Ms Njeri, who could be one of the country’s most reclusive billionaires if her claims are proven to be true, said she imported 100,000 tonnes of diesel.
- In a DCI statement, she recorded that she bought the fuel from a Russian refinery and that the cargo arrived at the Mombasa port on October 10.
At approximately 2.19am on Sunday the MT Haigui, flying a Liberian flag, raised anchor and set sail towards Sika port in the west coast of India.
The ship’s crew likely breathed a sigh of relief after being stuck in Mombasa for over a month, sailing away from a mystery that has gripped the country for days and thrust MT Haigui to the centre of a stormy question – who owns the Sh17 billion diesel consignment that arrived in Mombasa last month?
Attempts to determine ownership of the diesel consignment have brought to the fore several inconsistencies in statements made by the claimants.
Ann Njeri Njoroge, a businesswoman who became an overnight celebrity after claiming ownership of the cargo, insists that she owns the diesel and intended to sell it in the open market.
Ms Njeri, 55, claims that the Kenyan government is colluding with Dhahran-based Saudi Aramco and its local agent, Galana Energies, to hijack her multibillion-shilling consignment.
She has sued Saudi Aramco’s local agent, Galana Energies, alongside the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) and the Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC). She claims that the defendants have robbed her of the black gold.
Saudi Aramco, through Galana Energies, and the Kenyan government, insist that they own the shipment and that Ms Njeri is using forged documents to lay claim to the Sh17 billion cargo.
Much like the MT Haigui, Ms Njeri became an overnight celebrity when word broke that her claim to the black gold had led a court to issuing an arrest warrant against the vessel and offloading of its precious cargo.
Sailing away from the trouble in Kenya, the MT Haigui was in violation of Justice Kizito Magare’s November 8 orders, which barred the ship from leaving Kenyan waters, or offloading of the cargo onboard.
The judge on Tuesday lifted the orders after establishing that the ship had sailed, and that its controversial cargo was offloaded.
The KPA told Justice Magare that it had not been served with the orders barring offload of the diesel or the ship’s exit from Kenyan waters.
But just when was the cargo offloaded?
On Wednesday afternoon, Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen claimed that the diesel was offloaded on November 4, four days before Justice Magare issued freeze orders.
Ms Njeri’s lawyers claim that the diesel was offloaded on Saturday night, just hours before the MT Haigui fled Kenyan waters at the risk of it and its crew becoming international fugitives.
Justice Magare and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), with whom Ms Njeri has staked her claim on the diesel, will delve into controversy over the date of offload as they handle the petition that the businesswoman has filed.
Perhaps the most glaring inconsistency in the saga is the diesel’s tonnage, as both sides laying claim have made public different figures from what the MT Haigui actually delivered.
Ms Njeri, who could be one of the country’s most reclusive billionaires if her claims are proven to be true, said that she imported 100,000 tonnes of diesel.
In a DCI statement, she recorded that she bought the fuel from a Russian refinery and that the cargo arrived at the Mombasa port on October 10.
Energy Cabinet Secretary Davis Chirchir on Wednesday claimed that he placed an order for 85,000 tonnes from Saudi Aramco on September 7. The shipment that arrived in October was 93,460.46 tonnes.
Ms Njeri, in her DCI statement, said that the MT Haigui took 15 days, sailing from Moscow to Mombasa with stops in Azerbaijan Republic, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. By her claim, the ship was loaded with diesel on September 26.
But ship tracking websites show that on September 26, MT Haigui was sailing to Yanbu, Saudi Arabia.
The tracking websites, which use satellite data to pinpoint ship locations, show that MT Haigui left Malta on September 19 and docked in Port Said, Egypt. On September 23, the ship left for Great Bitter Lake, another port in Egypt.
The websites show that ship arrived in Yanbu on September 25 and spent two days before sailing to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. Further, the websites indicate that MT Haigui left Jeddah on September 30 and arrived in Mombasa on October 11.
On Wednesday, Energy CS Mr Chirchir said that the ship was loaded on September 28 and started its journey to Mombasa two days later. He added that MT Haigui’s ship master disowned Ms Njeri’s documents, terming them as forged.
While Ms Njeri’s DCI statement indicates that the diesel was bought from Russia and was loaded from a port in Moscow, the businesswoman has in court papers stated that the cargo was loaded from the port of Jeddah, in Saudi Arabia.
In her court papers, Ms Njeri says that she bought the diesel using loans, and that it is insured. The documents do not, however, specify the banks and insurance companies that financed her alleged purchase of the cargo.