What you need to know:
- Ms Njeri is claiming ownership of a Sh17 billion diesel consignment
- Energy CS Davis Chirchir says Ms Njeri’s licence application was rejected by Epra
- Only firms registered by Epra are allowed to import fuel into the country
A senior Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) official yesterday denied ever meeting Ann Njeri, who is claiming ownership of a Sh17 billion diesel consignment, as Energy Cabinet Secretary Davis Chirchir maintained that the businesswoman tried to use forged papers to hijack the fuel.
Last Thursday, Ms Njeri filed a complaint with the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), claiming that 100,000 tonnes of diesel she imported from Russia aboard MT Haigui was on the brink of being stolen by the governments of Kenya and Saudi Arabia, working with Kenyan firm Galana Energies.
The firm is one of the local agents in Kenya’s petroleum import deal with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. She has also filed a civil suit against Galana, Kenya Ports Authority and Kenya Pipeline Company.
On Wednesday, Mr Chirchir said High Court orders issued on November 8 barring the offloading of the cargo were lifted on Tuesday.
This came as Transport CS Kipchumba Murkomen revealed that the diesel was offloaded “a few weeks ago” and ferried to different countries, indicating that Ms Njeri is fighting a losing battle.
“By the time she came out claiming ownership, we were left wondering which fuel? Because the importer came with documents and handed over the fuel to the people it was being imported for. The fuel was later ferried to the countries it was destined for. However, some of the fuel destined for Kenya was also offloaded,” he said.
In his statement, Mr Chirchir confirmed that the diesel was discharged into the Kipevu storage facility in Mombasa on November 4.
He insisted that the petroleum is owned by Dhahran-based Saudi Aramco and added that Ms Njeri’s Anns Import and Export Enterprises has no license to import petroleum products.
The CS said that on October 9, just two days before the ship loaded with diesel docked in Mombasa, Anns Import and Export Enterprises Ltd applied for a permit to import, export and sell petroleum on wholesale.
The license application, the CS said, was rejected because the firm did not meet any of the requirements for registration.
Mr Chirchir stated that when applying for the license, Ms Njeri’s firm did not submit proof of annual sales of at least 6.6 million litres of petroleum, ownership of at least five retail stations in Kenya, operation of a licensed depot in Kenya or annual turnover of at least $10 million for firms with operations outside Kenya.
He added that the businesswoman’s claim of awaiting a license after payment to the Energy Petroleum and Regulatory Authority (Epra) was false because the regulator does not levy fees for such licences.
According to Mr Chirchir, the documents Ms Njeri presented to prove ownership of the cargo were forged and were dismissed by the MT Haigui’s vessel master.
“The stamp in the bill of lading by Anns Import and Export Enterprises Ltd bore a stamp not identical to the stamp for MT Haigui; the cargo quantity captured in the bill of lading by Anns Import and Export Enterprises Ltd was incorrect; the master’s signature in the bill of lading by Anns Import and Export Enterprises Ltd was forged and the port of origin captured in Anns Import and Export Enterprises Ltd was incorrect,” Mr Chirchir said.
Separately, Mr Chirchir admitted to meeting Ms Njeri, but did not say when. He said the meeting was triggered by the businesswoman’s claim, despite his knowledge of Aramco having dispatched MT Haigui to deliver the fuel cargo.
Ms Njeri told detectives that a senior KRA official, in helping seek buyers, advised her to engage President William Ruto and Mr Chirchir owing to the strict regulation of the petroleum industry. She claimed that she met the KRA official in a Mombasa hotel after being assured that he could help her find buyers for the diesel.
But the KRA official, who agreed to speak to the Nation on condition of anonymity, denied ever meeting Ms Njeri, as he said she only called him when MT Haigui was still in the high seas to ask how such goods are cleared.
“I have not given that kind of advice (engaging President Ruto or Mr Chirchir on selling petroleum). I have not met the lady but I did talk to her over the phone and I never gave her that advice, she should be honest enough to tell you the advice I gave her,” the official said, adding that he did not know how Ms Njeri got his number.
But Ms Njeri told detectives that she got his number from another customs officer based at the Mombasa port.
The customs officer yesterday said Ms Njoroge walked into her office in the company of a clearing agent claiming to have a shipment of edible oil and diesel on its way to Kenya, and wanted to know how to clear the goods.
After being informed of the process, Ms Njeri and the agent left. She allegedly returned later in the company of her personal assistant, Judith Biwott, and asked for a refresher on the clearing process. After the customs agent explained the process, the businesswoman and her assistant left.
“I did not hook her up with anyone, she was brought by a clearing agent and claimed that she had edible oil and diesel. I just explained how the goods are cleared. I just gave her my professional advice. Everyday people walk into my office seeking assistance with such information,” the customs agent said.
Mr Murkomen’s statement indicates that the diesel was offloaded before the High Court in Mombasa issued an arrest warrant for the ship, alongside orders barring offloading of the petroleum.
On Tuesday, Ms Njeri, who went missing after allegedly importing the diesel, reappeared after four days accompanied by her lawyers Cliff Ombeta and David Chumo.
In a press briefing, she recounted the torment she underwent at the hands of individuals she claimed were police officers.
“The oil is mine and I imported it from Europe for sale. I had all the documents about the consignment, but the kidnappers told me to disown the cargo and flee the country immediately I was set free,” she said.