Court May find former SONARA Manager Culpabable of Embezzlement
Prosecutors at the Yaoundé Special Criminal Court say the former General Manager of the National Oil Refinery (SONARA), Charles Metouk and four others accused of embezzling over FCFA 514 million, may be found guilty of the charges levied against them.
The trial of the former GM continued on Wednesday 26 August 2015, when the prosecuting counsel presented its final submission. Tagiyin Jean Claude in an extensive presentation said Mr Metouk had caused the state of Cameroon to lose FCFA 108 million by endorsing a cheque for a contentious oil deal with a private company, Viking Ltd. He argued that the accused was not competent to handle the deal.
The prosecuting counsel added that the accused had also caused the state to lose another FCFA 406 million after paying the said amount to Ecobank without prior deduction of taxes.
Another lawyer for SONARA, Ndam Jean Bertrand said the location of the company, Ecobank, in Togo’s capital, Lome made it almost impossible for the siphoned FCFA 406 Million to be uncovered before the Supreme State Audit’s assessement of SONARA’s accounts in 2011.
For his part, the Counsel for the State of Cameroon, Barrister Francis Sama, said the pilfering of money from a state corporation (where the state owns 84% of shares) is considered misappropriation of public funds by article 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
“The trial had respected all norms of impartiality and fairness by holding in public, with the accused given the opportunity to freely defend themselves” said Barrister Sama
Other co-accused are former workers of SONARA, Ngalle Mouelle Noé, Edinguele Edinguele Jean Joule and Dikoume Albert Léonard.
They are accused of aiding and abetting the embezzlement of hundreds of millions of francs CFA while working at the state owned oil refinery.
The accused persons first appeared before the Special Criminal Court in Yaounde on February 18, 2015.
Charges had been dropped against one of them, Tiako Etienne because he reimbursed the amount he was accused of embezzling last January.
By Blaise Whumo
Edited by Jude Fuhnwi