Liberian President Weah orders probe of Exxon’s 2013 oil deal

Lights from a police car are reflected on Exxon Mobil Corp. signage displayed at the company's Torrance Refinery in Torrance, California, U.S. Photographer:Patrick T. Fallon/ Bloomberg
Lights from a police car are reflected on Exxon Mobil Corp. signage displayed at the company's Torrance Refinery in Torrance, California, U.S. Photographer:Patrick T. Fallon/ Bloomberg

Liberian President George Weah ordered a probe into Exxon Mobil Corp.’s 2013 deal for drilling rights off the coast of the West African nation, according to his office.

The investigation follows last month’s report by campaign-group Global Witness that Exxon purchased the rights despite knowing that the block was suspected of being partially owned by Liberian individuals who may have illegally granted it to themselves while holding public office.

Exxon did voice concerns over the history of the oil block but eventually structured a deal to purchase its stake from Canadian Overseas Petroleum Ltd., a partner in the asset, rather than directly from Liberian companies, Global Witness said.

Exxon didn’t immediately comment on the probe. Last month, it said the agreement complied with all national and international anti-graft laws and that the company is committed to ethical behavior.

Weah named a five-member investigating committee which has two weeks to submit its initial findings and make recommendations, his office said in an emailed statement on Tuesday. The former AC Milan soccer player came to power in January after winning a runoff vote the previous month to succeed former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

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