Several figures are being summoned to the Special Criminal Court (TCS) in the context of the National Refining Company (Sonara) fire case that occurred on May 31, 2019. Among them is the president and CEO of the group from Active Insurance. Richard Lowe was summoned to appear on July 28, 2022 at the headquarters of the Specialized Corps of Judicial Police Officers (Csop) of the TCS. According to the summons issued on the instructions of the Attorney General of TCS since May 9, 2022, the CEO of the Activa Group is suspected of “embezzlement of public property and systematic negligence resulting in the May 31, 2019 incident in Sonara.”
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During the insurance contract with Activa, the main Cameroonian refinery was already exposed to a serious fire that completely set fire to 4 of the 13 production units in Sonara, and partly 3 of the refinery units. Who lost, moreover, about 10 million liters of oil in this disaster. According to the insurance contract that committed her to Activa, Sonara was supposed to benefit from a large compensation. Except so far, the two parties are opposed to the observance of contractual obligations by another contracting party. At stake, Sonara expects 200 billion CFA francs in compensation in the wake of this disaster.
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Except that according to a source within the Cameroonian insurance community, the dispute stems from the delay in payment of the premium by Sonara: “The topic of Sonara was mentioned to Fnaf, but the organization was not entered. It is true that there are many shortcomings, but if Sonara had paid in On time, the reinsurers will pay $200 billion. In this type of fire insurance, more than half of the premium is paid to the reinsurers. Activa takes over the premium for the reinsurers,” says the source. It is clear that Sonara would not have met the contractual deadlines for paying the full said bonus, which according to other sources, was paid the day after the May 31, 2019 fire.
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Inside Activa, word and mouth are sewn when Richard Lowe is called: “When a case is pending in court, we don’t comment on it,” she says. This misunderstanding prompted Sonara to cancel Bid Request No. 011.19/Aono/Sonara/Cipm/2019 dated April 1, 2019 relating to the three-year insurance program (2019-2021). Bidding will be opened on October 10, 2019 for the renewal of the Sonara insurance program for a period of three years for the period 2020/2021/2022. We must now review the type or types of insurance appropriate to the situation of the refinery since May 31. It will be necessary to review the terms of the Request for Bids launched on 1 April. The situation changed with the fire. Sonara explained that due to the change in the risk composition after the May 31, 2019 fire, Jean-Paul Ngono, managing director of this company, also referred to the conflict between Sonara and Activa, a member of a group of insurance companies that submitted bids for this call for bids.
This latest development is characteristic of the tension between Sonara and Activa. But it also exposed a wall of misunderstanding between Sonara and Swiss Reinsurance, the Swiss insurer and reinsurer, Activa’s main reinsurer, with whom Sonara has entered into discussions with a view to settling the case.