King Mohammed VI received the newly-appointed Competition Council president, Ahmed Rahhou, at the royal palace of Fez.
Rabat – King Mohammed VI has appointed Ahmed Rahhou to replace Driss Guerraoui as president of Morocco’s Competition Council, a move that is widely interpreted as designed to deal with recent reports of murky dealings in Morocco’s hydrocarbon sector.
A statement from the royal cabinet noted that the appointment comes after the submission of a report by an “ad-hoc committee” the King had appointed to assess the functioning of the competition council.
The committee, which King Mohammed VI appointed in 2020, submitted its report to the monarch earlier this month.
Among its many tasks, the ad-hoc committee notably investigated reports of administrative malfeasance and corruption in the way the competition council dealt with “possible agreements in the hydrocarbon sector.”
The committee ensured the compliance with laws and procedures relating to “the functioning of the Competition Council, the course of the litigation proceedings, and obvious deterioration in the climate of deliberations,” according to the royal cabinet.
The King ordered the transmission of the recommendations of the ad-hoc Committee to the Head of Government to address the inaccuracies of the legal work and to strengthen the impartiality and transparency.
The report primarily seeks to consolidate the council’s vocation as an independent body contributing to fostering good governance, the rule of law in the economic sphere, and consumer protection.
The royal cabinet reiterated that the ad-hoc committee was not tasked with examining the substance of the contentious case before the Competition Council, nor “even less to replace the council in its processing.”
Last year, King Mohammed VI received a note from the former president of the competition council president.
The notice indicated the council’s decision regarding possible agreements between hydrocarbon companies and the Petroleum Group of Morocco.
In the notice, the council explained its decision to impose financial sanctions amounting to 9% of annual turnover of three of Morocco’s leading oil distributors.
It included sanctions of a lower amount for some of Morocco’s other hydrocarbon companies.
The king also received another notice from Guerraoui on the same subject, which included different contradictory figures.
“This time, the amount is set at 8% of annual turnover without distinction between companies and without any indication of the distribution of votes,” the statement reads.
On July 28 of last year, several other members of the council sent the King a note that appeared to accuse Guerraoui of grave professional misconduct.
They said the management of the issue with hydrocarbon companies “was characterized by procedural infringements on the part of the president which damage the quality and impartiality of the decision taken by the council.”
The signatories of the complaint reported “communication harmful to the examination of the case and to the credibility of the council.”
They also claimed the lack of transparency in the council’s proceedings during Guerraoui’s tenure, prompting King Mohammed VI to order the creation of an ad-hoc commission to investigate the situation.