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Cape Town - Energy Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi on Tuesday told MPs she was considering criminal charges relating to the sale of 10.3 million barrels of South Africa's strategic fuel reserves.

Briefing Parliament's portfolio committee on energy, Kubayi again confirmed the fuel stocks were "sold" and not rotated as was claimed by her predecessor Tina Joemat-Pettersson last year. Joemat-Pettersson commissioned an investigation into the deal, the results of which Kubayi presented to MPs on Tuesday. The report absolved the boards of the Strategic Fuel Fund (SFF) and the Central Energy Fund (CEF).

The boards claim they did not know about the sale, something opposition parties found hard to believe. "There's no way board members didn't know and if they didn't know they should be fired," Democratic Alliance MP Gordon Mackay told the African News Agency (ANA).

The sale caused an outcry, partly because the stock was disposed off at the low price of 29 US dollars a barrel. Kubayi said a forensic probe would be done to trace exactly where the money from the sale went and would also determine what losses were incurred as a result of the deal.

While the minister said they were considering criminal charges, she said she was still studying the report to see who was to blame. Mackay said seeing that the CEF and SFF boards, as well as Joemat-Pettersson, had been absolved of wrongdoing, it only left one person. "It doesn't leave anyone except the SFF CEO who was also the CFO and the legal adviser at the time of the sale.

He communicated directly with the minister [Joemat-Pettersson] in terms of the transaction. "There's a strong attempt to scapegoat one individual."