Senegal’s opposition calls for inquiry on BP gas deal

A group of opposition politicians in Senegal is demanding an investigation of two major offshore gas blocks run by British Petroleum (BP) after a report alleging fraud involving President Macky Sall's brother Aliou Sall.

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) on Monday published an investigation alleging that in a previously unpublished arrangement, BP agreed to pay Timis Corporation, a company run by Romanian-Australian tycoon Frank Timis, around $10 billion in royalty payments for its stake in the blocks.

The report said the early history of the acreage, which contains one of the largest deposits of gas in the world, was mired by fraud involving Timis, who has mining and energy interests across Africa.

The BBC alleged that Timis in 2014 secretly paid $250,000 to a company run by Aliou Sall called Agritrans, based on a trove of documents it reviewed.

It said Timis also paid Aliou Sall $1.5 million in salary over five years for his work in Petro-Tim, the company originally given the blocks before Timis Corporation, and that he was also offered $3 million in shares in Timis companies.

Aliou Sall denied receiving the $250,000 payment from Timis and called the BBC's report “totally false”.

Both BP and Mr. Timis deny any wrongdoing.

BP alos says in a statement that it “rejects any implication that it acted improperly in the acquisition of our interests in Senegal”  It said the $10 billion figure quoted by the BBC was “wholly inaccurate”.

Senegal's offshore oil and gas reserves have the potential to transform the impoverished West African country when they start flowing in the next decade, likely in volumes rivaling some of the region's biggest producers.