SPECIAL REPORT | Contract for an Oil Refinery in Zuwara Given to a Canadian Company with Only a House Address and 3 Employees – Al Marsad

The head of the State Audit Bureau, Khaled Shakshak, requested in a letter he addressed last Thursday to Mohamed al-Hawaij, Minister of Economy in the government of Abdul Hamid Dbaiba, to withdraw his decision No. 430 of 2022 regarding the Zuwara complex refinery project for oil refining and petrochemical industries.

Scanned copy of the letter by Khaled Shakshak to Mohamed Hwaij to stop the contract.

The decision stipulated, according to documents leaked from the Court and published by the Sada Al-Eqtisadiah newspaper (Sada Economic Newspaper), to grant permission to a Libyan company named Rimas Oil Field Services Co Libya (registered in Sabratha), and its Canadian partner, GC Canada Trade International Corporation (a general trading company), to implement the refinery project worth tens of millions of US dollars, provided that the contract is for a period 99 years and with a 25-year investment between the two companies that merged into a unit company called GC Canada Petroleum Group.

Al-Hawaij’s decision was based on the Dbaiba government’s decisions regarding the restructuring of the General Authority for Investment Promotion and Privatization Affairs. As for the contract that he oversaw and concluded with the two companies, the agreement stipulates that the Canadian company will have 70% of the project’s shares, compared to 30% for the Libyan company, while the Libyan Ministry of Finance is responsible for issuing a letter of financial guarantee obligated to the value of the project.

Contract details.

ALMARSAD INVESTIGATES THE COMPANIES

According to its official website, the Rimas Oil Field Services company was established in 2020 with its headquarters in Tripoli, while the Canadian company, GC Canada Trade International Corporation, was also established in September of the same year. AlMarsad did did not find any website for the Canadian company, which is remarkable given the scale of the contract it was awarded by the Dbaiba government was in the millions to build an oil refinery in Libya—which is no insignificant matter.

 

According to al-Hwaij’s decision and the contract between the two companies, “the Dbaiba government is committed to pumping 300,000 barrels of crude oil from the Sharara and El Feel fields to the Zuwara refinery project.”

Contract detail.

According to the same contract, the project is supposed to produce a number of petroleum products, including 350,000 tons of gasoline, ethylene and other products.

AN OIL COMPANY BASED IN A HOME

The AlMarsad team’s investigation on the background of this rather unknown Canadian company, GC Canada Trade International Corporation, found that it was originally owned by a person who appears to be of Libyan origin, a person by the name of Mohamed Gomaa Ibrahim, who resides in the Quebec region of Canada. The official address of the company registration with the Canadian government was an old suburbia house in the same area in Gatineau in Quebec.

It is no doubt strange for a company to obtain a contract of this type, size and significance from the Libyan government—and yet its commercial address is a small residential house consisting of three rooms and an underground store (basement), according to photos obtained by AlMarsad, given the company’s own registration address and as per the contract signed with the Dbaiba government.

Through additional investigation through the Canadian Commercial Register, it was found that the Canadian company had only three employees in all its addresses, while its reported capital and sales amounted to only US$694,000 (modelled figure) in 2021, and its last meeting was in November 2021.

Canadian Commercial Register: The number of company employees was stated as 3 and its financial revenue was only US$694,000.

AlMarsad was unable to find any record of the activity of this company or more information on its owner, Mohamed Gomaa Ibrahim, as neither had a website, a Facebook account, or at the very least a LinkedIn account for jobs and networking in the field. There was no trace on GC Canada Trade International Corporation’s business history.

Shakshak’s leak of the contract and Al-Hawaij’s decision came after a controversial meeting that Al-Hawaij held last week in Tunisia with Fathi Bashagha, the prime minister-designate competing with the Dbaiba government. What seemed, according to well-informed sources within the Audit Bureau, to be “a response from Shakshak on the actions of Al-Hawaij, who would not have revealed the documents of this suspicious contract had it not been for the Tunis meetings with the aim of using institutions and resources to settle accounts,” according to the same sources.

Notwithstanding the reasons for the leak, the wider question however still remains of how could the Dbaiba government issue a contract for a project as critical as the establishment of an oil refinery project to a relatively unknown company without transparency and due diligence?

ALMARSAD SPECIAL INVESTIGATION (2022)
Project contract documents: Sada Economic Newspaper