Five days after accusations of corruption made against one of his brothers in a BBC documentary on the country’s hydrocarbon sector, Senegalese President Macky Sall announced that he would refer the matter to the public prosecutor to investigate.
The news was relayed on Friday, June 7 by the local media: according to a source close to the case, the head of state wants a judicial investigation to be opened that « will not leave anyone out ». Entitled « The $ 10 Billion Energy Scandal » and broadcast (see documentary here) on Sunday, June 2, the British public channel’s investigation claims that Aliou Sall, the President’s younger brother, received bribes related to the allocation in 2012 of two oil and gas fields to the sulphurous businessman Frank Timis.
At the time, shortly after Macky Sall came to power, the Australian-Romanian entrepreneur’s Petro-Tim company, associated with the Société des pétroles du Sénégal (Petrosen), had its rights to operate two oil and gas fields off Senegal confirmed. The firm, which is new to the sector, then – according to the BBC – sold its shares to the oil giant BP for $250 million in 2017, with royalties of some $10 billion over 40 years. Allegations that Aliou Sall described Tuesday, in a press conference, as « totally false », with the Senegalese president’s younger brother promising to sue the BBC for defamation. The Senegalese government denounced a « clearly biased report » and « punctuated by serious and false allegations about the governance of Senegal’s oil resources ».
A controversy that at least has the merit of shedding light on the issues related to Senegal’s future oil and gas windfall. Historically an importer of hydrocarbons, the country, which has discovered the equivalent of nearly 3 billion barrels of oil reserves in recent years, could deliver its first barrels as early as 2021.