Mr. Editor,

The director of SBF International Inc. and SBF Petroleum Inc. Dorwain Bess continues to slander the characters and professionalism of the agents of the Guyana Energy Agency (GEA).

Even though some of these questions are pending and we have been barred from commenting on them, as chairman I have noted that Bess, through a series of articles published in the Kaieteur News, presents convenient half-truths. and blatant misrepresentation in trying to paint the GEA as a villain in its spurious tale of doom and victimization.

Having received a detailed summary of the history of Lynwil International Trading Inc., SBF Petroleum Inc. and SBF International Inc. and their operations throughout the companies’ wholesale import license term and comparing the information provided by Bess in her various interviews, I remain puzzled as to the real intent behind her outbursts and public protests.

Whether it was the journalist’s editorialization of the KN article dated July 26, 2021 or Bess’s incorrect account of the sequence of events, Bess’s attempts to portray the GEA as being involved in vindictive actions. , authoritarians and conspirators against his company are easily proven. inaccurate by following the paper trail of communications regarding the possible eviction of the company from the Christianburg facility.

Bess claimed to have had conversations with a former director of his company, with the director referring to accusations against Christopher Jones and a hostile takeover bid which was followed by GEA’s “sudden” lease investigation and denial. of GRA and GEA personnel to carry out the marking at the terminal.

A check of any media reporting would show that the incident with Christopher Jones occurred in the latter part of August 2020. The incident involving the denial of entry to GEA and GRA staff occurred much more early May 29, 2020. SBF has been written to regarding the denial of entry and requested to provide an updated lease on June 10, 2020 and Omai informed the GEA of the amended lease by letter dated June 30 but received on 7 July 2020. The notice before cancellation was issued on August 13, 2020 after the GEA had already received confirmation from the director of Omai as to the authenticity of the lease.

For the first time, Bess in a KN article dated July 19, 2021 claimed that the company knowingly submitted an amended lease to GEA to support its application for a wholesale import license, an admission never made within 30 days. during which he and his company were provided as to why his company’s wholesale import license should not be canceled.

Bess also admitted in a KN article dated July 26, 2021 that even before his company’s license was effectively canceled, the company had been kicked out of the Christianburg site and did not have Environmental clearance. Protection Agency (EPA) to refuel from vessel to vessel despite having been advised by GEA of the need to obtain the same months previously. What he failed to say was that at that time the company did not have other authorized storage facilities for the continuation of its importing business and therefore did not provide any reason why the license should not be canceled.

It should be noted that the company used the said eviction as an excuse to the EPA to explain why it was unable to complete the clean-up and remediation activities required by this entity following a spill of 59,000 liters of diesel on site. Indeed, this non-compliance with the conditions for the withdrawal of a previous prohibition notice had the effect of giving effect to this notice. Nowhere in her many articles has Bess stated this.

Bess claims that his company SBF International (or perhaps SBF Petroleum as the distinction between the two is negligible) has built large facilities and the published articles are accompanied by photographs of several red storage tanks standing on red ground. Bess on behalf of the SBF has to date submitted no document to the Agency concerning this storage site, although he is aware of the documents required to support an authorization request. In fact, the site appears to be leased from another company Alpha Petroleum Trading Inc. of which Bess was a former director. Those familiar with the requirements for safe bulk fuel storage can simply review the photos displayed and determine if the site actually appears ready for fuel storage.

Bess submitted two consecutive days of wholesale import license applications on behalf of SBF International Inc. and Alpha Petroleum Trading Inc. Although from two different companies, the applications were almost identical in content, claiming to use suppliers and similar storage facilities. Another surprising connection between the two companies was revealed in a KN article dated July 22, 2021 where a certain Marlon Campbell of “Osher International IDG Bank & Trust” was cited as making statements regarding the license cancellation. by SBF. Another company with a similar title, Osher International Banking & Trust has provided a letter of intent signed by a certain Marlon Campbell, to provide funding in the amount of millions of US dollars to another director of Alpha for investments in Guyana. The striking similarity in names and barely noticeable distinctions did not go unnoticed by the vigilant and diligent staff of GEA.

Although very little information can be found on the ability of this “international bank” to source and provide such large funds to Bess, SBF, Alpha or any other entity, its very public and emphatic support for an individual is quite different. of the posture taken by the many recognized and accredited international funding agencies with which the GEA and other entities have interacted.

As chairman, I was invited to meet with another director, Vincent Firth of Alpha Petroleum, who said if a license was not granted to SBF and granted to Alpha instead, he would immediately transfer the license. from Alpha to SBF. During this meeting of April 22, 2021, Vincent Firth affirmed that he was the sole financier of the SBF. In what appears to be an attempt to negotiate to eliminate SBF transgressions, Vincent Firth has proposed to withdraw SBF’s lawsuit against GEA challenging the license cancellation if the agency “rolls back” the license. of the SBF. At that meeting, Firth even went so far as to threaten to launch an aggressive public campaign against GEA and its leader, Dr Sharma, if the SBF’s license was not reinstated. Seeking clarification of the relationship between the two entities given the obvious similarity of their applications, GEA received two letters, one from Bess and Firth containing almost identical language that Bess was just a director. Advice to Alpha which was Firth’s business and that SBF was really Bess’s business, with whom he shared a board position with a certain Dannel Munroe.

As what can be seen as an attempt to paint a picture of the distance between the two companies, Firth claimed Bess had resigned as director of Alpha, but business register checks showed his directors remained the same. It was only after GEA asked Firth for the incorporation documents indicating the change of directors that changes were made to the registry records. The company’s shareholding also changed, making Firth the sole shareholder, while Bess and an appointed lawyer were previously the only two directors.

While Bess claims to have multiple employees on the bread line, two gas stations on the west coast of Demerara have the SBF Petroleum names on their awnings. What Bess did not disclose is that one of those gas stations is leased to Alpha Petroleum and not SBF as the canopy can describe it. The other gas station is actually unlicensed despite the GEA asking the owner to regularize the status of the station. Had the GEA and its agents been as vindictive as Bess claims, the Agency would not have shown the great leniency it has and Bess and / or her company would face their third criminal charge for unauthorized trading. . It should be noted that, contrary to what was said by Bess on July 26, 2021, GEA has not brought a private criminal charge against its company for the amended lease. All charges relate to unauthorized transactions, including the wholesale of gasoline that the company has never been authorized to import or sell.

While Bess was making a lot of noise about “having to fight tooth and nail to get [fuel] liberated ”for him, he is undoubtedly aware that the many checks and balances put in place not only by the GEA but also by the GRA were aimed at ensuring that all fuel imported by his company was appropriately taxed and marked. effective.

The GEA has granted import licenses to small resellers with the aim of expanding fuel sources, generating income and jobs, and creating competition in the downstream sector, but this has presented new challenges for the Agency in the surveillance of the said sector. As a result, additional internal controls were created with the aim of ensuring that all standard grade fuels were properly taxed, marked and distributed to consumers across the country. While this may have placed additional demands on small importers, a necessary balance had to be struck. SBF’s operations on various occasions seemed to create new challenges for the Agency, but we continued to work with them to meet them.

The GEA is sympathetic to the employees of SBF whose jobs have been lost as a result of the inhumane acts of their employer, however GEA asks these employees, if they indeed are, to examine the past and present actions of the company. and see all done with objective eyes.

The Board and the Agency will not allow threats of unfounded prosecution, reporting to local and international media, and writing letters to international officials and bodies to prevent the Agency from enforcing the law. Bess and everyone else are advised to focus their efforts on the legal means available for dispute resolution rather than engaging in ongoing smear campaigns.

The Board of Directors will continue to review and provide advice to the Agency to ensure fairness, transparency, accountability and compliance with the law.

Yours faithfully,

Jerome Khan

Chairman of the Board of Directors of GEA


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