Furnace Oil Scam: BPC finds some irregularities

Dwaipayan Barua and Md Fazlur Rahman, from Ctg

The committee for sale of furnace oil of state-run Padma Oil Company Ltd has been flouting its parent company Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation’s (BPC) instructions regarding approval for delivering the fuel to different companies, said a BPC official yesterday.

The committee’s non-adherence to the guidelines gave rise to a nexus of corruption in Padma Oil centring sale of furnace oil, said the official on condition of anonymity.

The comment of the BPC official came a week after Rapid Action Battalion in Chittagong seized 3.4 lakh litres of furnace oil that was heading for the black market on May 20.

Following the incident, BPC formed a three-member probe committee headed by its Marketing Director Muhammad Nurul Alam to investigate the haul. The committee was directed to submit its report within seven working days.

The probe committee visited the premises of Padma Oil in Sadarghat of the port city yesterday.

“During the probe committee’s visit, the members of the sales committee could not properly answer the queries of the probe committee,” said the official, who has knowledge about the probe.

Padma Oil officials were asked by the probe committee whether they take permission from the company’s managing director or the general manager (sales) before allowing delivery of furnace oil to a company. In reply the Padma Oil officials said they do not take such permission.

Shaheed Hosne Rabbee, assistant general manager of Padma Oil, is the convener of the three-member sales committee, while Abu Hasnath Shahid, manager (direct business), and Asif Malek, deputy manager (marketing), are member and member secretary of the committee respectively.

The three were appointed on November 23 last year.

The BPC official said one of the members of the sales committee has been given place in another committee of Padma Oil as well, which indicates that he is favoured by the top management.

He said the sales committee was instructed to physically visit the premises of furnace oil seeking companies to find out whether the companies really need the fuel and the amount they need.

The members of the sales committee told the probe body that they never visited any company premises before approving furnace oil supply, said the BPC official adding, “Had they made the visits then there would not have been so many fake companies that bought furnace oil with fake addresses.”

The probe committee will submit its report this week, he said.

Another BPC official said illegal sale of furnace oil to ships has been going on for a while as much as legal sale. “But nobody ever said anything about the practice,” he added.

The official said ship operators prefer to buy furnace oil from the black market to avoid bureaucratic hassle, and because to buy the fuel from authorised dealers they have to pay in dollars but on the black market they can buy it with the local currency.

The energy ministry also formed a one-member probe committee comprising Joint Secretary AK Mohiuddin Ahmed on Thursday to investigate corruption in Padma Oil, said a source in the ministry.

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