Liberian President George Weah ordered a probe into Exxon Mobil Corp.’s 2013 deal for drilling rights off the West African nation’s coast, his office said. 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 voiced 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 that has two weeks to submit its initial findings and make recommendations, his office said in an emailed statement Tuesday.
The former A.C. Milan soccer player came to power in January after winning a runoff vote the previous month to succeed former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate.