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SONARAGATE: Former General Manager Charles Metouck at Biya's Special Criminal Court

The trial continued at the Yaounde Special Criminal Court, SCC, on Tuesday, July 21, 2015, in the embezzlement case involving the former General Manager of the National Oil Refinery, SONARA and three other accused people. Tuesday’s sitting saw Charles Metouck take to the witness box for Examination-in-Chief by one of his counsel to defend his tenure at SONARA. Presiding was the President of SCC, Mr. Justice Yap Abdou, alongside Justices Nyassa Luc and Nina Galina, with Mrs. Justice Siewe Yvette as Advocate General. Responding to questions by the lawyer, Metouck introduced himself as a 65-year-old chemical engineer, then revisited the history of the creation of SONARA and its strategic importance to the economy. He said at the time of his appointment as General Manager of the National Oil Refinery on September 10, 2002, the company had some social challenges with strikes. By the time he was replaced on February 15, 2013, SONARA was the leading company in Sub-Saharan Francophone Africa, he claimed.

Questioned on the charges of embezzling over 216,000 US Dollars in complicity with three others and FCFA 406 million alone, he focused his response on the former charge. He said the amount was interest accruing from the supply of three shipments of crude oil to SONARA in 2009. Charles Metouck explained the mechanism for paying for supplied crude oil, pointing out that the three shipments received from Viking were settled through nine bank transfers – two each for the first two shipments and five for the third. The former SONARA GM insisted that the transfers were made within the agreed timeframe, though Viking argued that there was default, threatening to take the matter to court. But the matter was amicably settled, with payments made. As at the time of leaving court, Charles Metouck was still continuing with his testimony. 

Charles Metouck and former SONARA staffers, Ngalle Mouelle Noé, Edinguele Edinguele Jean Joule and Dikoume Albert Léonard, stand accused of aiding and abetting the embezzlement of over FCFA 108 million. The amount was reportedly fraudulently retained from the signing by SONARA of a contract with a private company. Meanwhile, over FCFA 406 million, being taxes due to the State, was allegedly fraudulently retained by Metouck alone. The other accused, Tiako Etienne, was let off the hook on April 22, 2015 after paying the amount he was accused of embezzling.

 

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