Exxon, Ramps Logistics reps charged with submitting inflated invoice to GRA

…new customs broker will do fulsome review of work process – Exxon

Exxon Guyana’s Steve Gentry

Ramps’ Business Development Manager Mariska Jordan and a ExxonMobil (Guyana) representative Steve Gentry, as representatives of their respective companies, appeared on Friday before Senior Magistrate Leron Daly at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts and pleaded not guilty to a charge alleging that the two business entities had inflated an invoice submitted to the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) for oil well equipment. The purported increase was from US$4.4 million to US$12.1 billion.
Jordan and Gentry had the charge read to them separately, were released on their own recognizance, and the matter has been adjourned to June 28.
During Friday’s hearing, ExxonMobil was represented by a team of lawyers headed by Senior Counsel Edward Luckhoo, while Senior Counsel Sophia Chote from the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago appeared for Ramps Logistics.
Attorney-at-Law Jason Moore represented the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), which is contending that, on November 16, 2023, Ramps Logistics submitted Customs declarations for a consignment of goods on behalf of ExxonMobil Guyana Limited. On the referenced declaration, the invoice value for the goods was stated as US$12,192,103,923.91.

Ramps’ Business Development Manager
Mariska Jordan

Recognising that the invoice value was inflated, a detailed investigation was conducted, and it was determined, inter alia, that the actual cost of the goods imported was US$4,467,662 and not US$12,192,103,923.91 as declared to the Revenue Authority.
Further, the GRA stated, on the said declaration, Ramps Logistic falsely declared themselves as the supplier of the goods imported by ExxonMobil, when in fact the suppliers were Baker Hughes and Technip FMC. As such, on January 23, 2024, Ramps Logistics Inc was made to show cause why proceedings should not be instituted against the company.
In response, Ramps Logistic Inc. stated that the said false declaration was prepared based on the information allegedly provided by ExxonMobil Guyana Limited through their KABAL System.

Did not compose
erroneous declaration
In a statement following Friday’s court appearance, ExxonMobil said it learnt from the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) of a clerical error in a Customs declaration filed by its former broker in late 2023.
“EMGL did not compose the erroneous declaration, nor were we aware of this clerical error when the declaration was filed. However, this error did not give rise to any financial loss to the GRA nor the Government of Guyana. Furthermore, it is important to note that the information included in Customs declarations is separate from, and not used for, the calculation of cost recovery or tax statements, and therefore this error has had no impact in those areas either. EMGL has cooperated fully with the GRA in its investigation, including providing the agency with corrected information,” the statement read.
Additionally, the company said it is “dedicated to ethical practices, ensuring accuracy in all submissions; mistakes are promptly corrected when uncovered. Our commitment to continuous improvement is reflected in our proactive steps to prevent similar errors, which has included a fulsome review of the work process with a new customs broker.”
ExxonMobil Guyana President Alistair Routledge had previously told a media conference that steps have already been taken to clear up the discrepancy.
“It was corrected for the customs, and they’ve received that. The GRA has the correct number. Everything was caught early, and there were no issues; nobody suffered any loss. Everything was taken care of, and, as I said, we’ve updated our procedures and the checks that are made to make sure this sort of error is not repeated,” he explained.

GRA reviewing
Weighing in on the issue, Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo had reported that the GRA was reviewing old invoices submitted by the companies to ensure that there is no overstatement in those documents as well.
“This revelation has prompted the Government to take certain steps to ensure this was a one-off incident. We’re now ensuring that before we finalise any of the (cost oil) audits – the second audit – the GRA will go back and check all the back-invoices for the past several years, to see that there’s been no overstatement on any of these invoices,” Jagdeo detailed.
“This is a serious matter, and we’re taking it seriously,” the Vice President had stated. The second oil audit that he is referring to covers the period 2018 to 2020.
ExxonMobil, through its local subsidiary Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL), has a majority 45 per cent interest in the Stabroek Block, and is the operator; while Hess Corporation holds a 30 per cent interest, and CNOOC Petroleum Guyana Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of CNOOC Limited, holds the remaining 25 per cent interest.
ExxonMobil, along with its co-venturers, commenced production activities in the Stabroek Block in December 2019. Currently, production has been ramped up to over 600,000 barrels of oil per day at the Liza Phases One and Two, as well as the Payara projects, all of which account for the three floating, production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessels operating in Guyana’s waters offshore.
The current production figures would be further buttressed by the Yellowtail and Uaru developments, which are already underway and are each anticipated to contribute 250,000 barrels of oil following their respective start-ups in 2025 and 2026. Additionally, Whiptail, which was only recently approved, would further contribute to these production numbers when it gets underway in 2027.