Cameroon police arrest ousted refinery manager for burglary of prior office


YAOUNDE, Cameroon -- Charles Metouck, the deposed general manager of Cameroon's state-owned National Refinery Corp., or Sonara, has been arrested and detained for the alleged illegal entry to his replacement's office and the destruction of vital documents, state-run Cameroon Radio Television reports Thursday.

Mr. Metouck had been general manager at 30-year-old Sonara for the last decade but last Friday was replaced by Ibrahim Talba Malla at the end of the corporation's board meeting, on the "orders of the President of the Republic."

"The former GM was arrested on Monday, February 18, 2013, after having been discovered to have discretely entered the new GM's office. He was caught signing documents and destroying others," CRTV reported, citing government sources.

Mr. Malla was immediately given the position as general manager by the country's Energy and Water Resources Minister, Basile Atangana Kouna, and will run Sonara alongside his role as manager of the Hydrocarbons Stabilization Fund, or CSPH.

Based in Cameroon's Atlantic coastal town of Limbe, 300 kilometers southwest of Yaounde, Sonara is Cameroon's only oil refinery.

Created in 1973, the company has been refining only imported light crude oil bought from neighboring Nigeria and Serra Leone, among others. It is now being transformed to refine the country's heavy crude oil. So far, the corporation's annual output of refined petroleum is 2 million tons.

The Cameroon government has been securing credits from local and foreign lenders to refurbish the company, which needs an estimated 300 billion CFA Francs ($612.1 million) for the refurbishment to be completed.

Prior to his arrest, local media reports said Mr. Metouck was being watched by the government's anti-corruption drive, "Operation Sparrow Hawk."

Observers are questioning what he was trying to conceal before he was arrested.

Dow Jones Newswires

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