Financial forensic investigation to conclude in six weeks, legal action contemplated on previous Board
Litro Gas Executive Chairman Shalila Moonasinghe
By Uditha Jayasinghe
Litro Gas, the country’s largest LPG supplier, said it has begun investigations into massive losses of Rs. 1 billion incurred during the last two years and would complete the financial probe in July.
The new office holders of the State-run company claim the losses were caused by a previous contract made with supplier Oman Trading International, which had increased freight prices unfairly since 2013.
“In 2011 a contract was signed with this company and it was extended two years later without any tender procedures. This resulted in significant losses. We are in the process of launching forensic auditing to ascertain the exact extent of the losses,” said Litro Gas Executive Chairman Shalila Moonasinghe.
He also told the Daily FT a financial forensic company had been selected through a tender procedure and they began work in the second week of June.
“We aim to complete the investigation in six weeks,” he added.
Litro Gas, which has 70% market share, imports around 200,000 tons of LPG annually for local consumption, with demand expected to grow 15%-20% in 2015. Once the contract with Oman Trading International lapsed, the new administration had called for tenders and is in the process of finalising a new supplier based in Europe, Moonasinghe said, but declined to divulge the name of the company until the deal was finalised. The new supplier will be contracted for two years.
“There is no truth to corruption allegations over the new supplier,” he insisted, adding 21 tenders had been evaluated before the final pick with proper procedures followed. Moonasinghe insisted the new supplier would provide a saving on freight charges but they would have to await Government direction on further price revisions to pass the relief to the customer.
The ongoing audit of the company covers the last four years to accurately calculate the alleged losses incurred under the previous administration.
“Our focus at the moment is covering the losses collected over the past few years. We will hold the previous Board responsible. Information gathered once the forensic accounting process is completed will be handed over to law enforcement authorities,” Moonasinghe emphasised.
In February, a complaint detailing the losses by Litro Gas was lodged by ex-employees of the company and a copy handed over to Minister of Finance Ravi Karunanayake. However, former Managing Director of Litro Gas P. Kudabalage stepped down from his post days afterwards, denying any wrongdoing, according to previous media reports. He has alleged all decisions on suppliers were taken by the Board of Directors headed by then Chairman Gamini Senarath.
Litro is the leader in marketing and selling LPG in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka only produces approximately 10% of its internal demand; therefore the country depends on imported LPG to bridge the growing gap between demand and the limited production by Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) refinery.