GEA Denies False Allegations by SBF Director after warrant issued for his arrest
The Guyana Energy Agency has noted with concern a series of articles published in the Kaieteur News between July 13 and July 19, 2021 on matters concerning the issue and cancellation of licences, conduct of investigations and institution of criminal charges against named individuals and companies.
The GEA wishes to categorically state that all decisions taken with regard to the grant and cancellation of licences and institution of charges are done fairly, transparently and in accordance with the Guyana Energy Agency Act and Petroleum and Petroleum Products Regulations which govern the Agency.
The company SBF International Inc. and its Director Dorwain Bess have been charged separately with offences of wholesaling and importing of diesel without the required licences following investigations into their operations after the company’s Importing Wholesale Licence was cancelled in September, 2020. It seems rather coincidental that the articles began after Mr. Bess appeared in the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court following the issue of a warrant for his arrest due to his failure to attend Court to face the charge of wholesaling without a licence was instituted against his company SBF International Inc. For clarity, the charges faced by the company and Mr. Bess for their unlicensed operations are unrelated to the shipment of fuel referred to by Mr. Bess, for which permission was granted by the Honourable Prime Minister in September, 2020.
The company SBF International Inc., previously named Lynwil International (Guyana) Inc., was initially granted an Importing Wholesale Licence in 2011. In June 2017, the Company submitted documents filed in the Commercial Registry to the GEA indicating that it was no longer named Lynwil International Trading (Guyana) but was now SBF Petroleum Inc. and subsequently in 2019, renewed its licence in the name SBF International Inc. with additional documents filed in the Commercial Registry.
Throughout its tenure as a licence holder, SBF Petroleum Inc. and SBF International Inc. were written to by the GEA about various breaches of the Agency’s internal procedures and shortcomings in their operations.
In June 2020, the company due to lax monitoring operations, suffered a spill of approximately 59,000 litres of diesel at its then storage facility at Christianburg, Linden and was issued a Prohibition Notice and fined by the Environmental Protection Agency.
In June 2020, after the GEA and Guyana Revenue Authority’s officers were refused entry to the Christianburg facility to conduct a marking exercise, the GEA wrote to SBF International Inc. about the state of its tenancy arrangements with the owner of the facility OMAI, requesting the submission of an updated lease as the one submitted in support of its application for 2019/2020 had expired. This letter was copied to OMAI.
OMAI, in a letter to the GEA signed by the Director, indicated that it had never signed any lease with SBF International Inc for the period 2019/2020 and a subsequent investigation revealed that the lease submitted by SBF was altered. At that time, the company had no other facility authorized to store fuel in the manner required for their operations. As a result, the Agency issued a “Notice Before Cancellation” to the company, detailing in full the findings of the investigation, and giving them an opportunity to show cause why their licence should not be cancelled. On consideration of the submissions by the company, its licence was cancelled.
The matter of the cancellation of the company’s licence is now the subject of litigation instituted by SBF International Inc. and Mr. Bess’ statements can be viewed as an attempt by him to have this, and other legal matters against him and his company, adjudicated in the court of public opinion rather than before the Courts of Law.
Further, the GEA wishes to state that the continuous publication of articles will not in any way influence, pressure or sway the GEA in making any decision and executing its mandate in any manner contrary to the law. The GEA wishes to advise and urge all members of the public that the import, wholesale, retail and transport of petroleum products requires the grant of a licence by the Guyana Energy Agency. To confirm the status of any fuel dealer, please contact the Licensing Division on 226-4424 ext. 240, 234 and 220 or email us at email@example.com. The Agency wishes to note that its Officers are not permitted to recommend any particular dealer to the public but rather to provide information as to the legal status of fuel dealers.