Dominican Gov’t Alleges Fraud at Shell Refinery

June 22, 2007

SANTO DOMINGO – The Dominican government this week accused Shell officials of altering invoices for fuel purchases at a jointly owned refinery to cheat the state and keep fuel prices “artificially” high, the press reported.

A report from government representatives at the Refinería Dominicana de Petroleo, or Refidomsa, revealed “alterations in invoices” for fuel and accused Shell personnel of being behind the irregularities, according to a report in the daily Listin Diario.

In light of the findings, government officials at the refinery recommended that Refidomsa’s general and technical managers be replaced and that the joint venture’s regulations be changed to give the state a greater say in operations.

The Shell Company, a unit of Anglo- Dutch oil giant Royal Dutch Shell plc and the Dominican government’s partner in Refidomsa, rejected the recommendations.

Excerpts from the report published in Listin Diario showed that transportation charges were doubled in some cases to pump up fuel prices, which are set every Friday in this Caribbean country.

The newspaper cited several instances of these practices, including a fuel shipment brought into the country last November by the tanker Salamina.

The alteration of transportation charges for that shipment was what led to the investigation of pricing practices at the refinery.

The allegations were denied by Shell, which said it would issue a statement next week on the report, the daily El Nacional reported.

Government Attorney Radhames Jiménez, meanwhile, said the government’s anti-corruption unit would investigate the fraud allegations against Shell.

Jiménez told reporters that he was awaiting the submission of an official complaint to open an investigation.

Shell Company is the largest distributor of fuel products in the Dominican Republic, where it has operated since 1929, and formed a joint venture with the government in 1971 to build Refidomsa, the first and only oil refinery in the Caribbean nation.

Under the terms of the joint venture, Shell performs all administrative functions and manages Refidomsa, an arrangement that has been criticized by various groups in the Dominican Republic.

 

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