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Business News

Ex Afren Bosses found guilty of fraud in $300m transaction after side-dealing with Nigerian firm

UK’s Serious Fraud Office disclosed that two former executives of Afren Plc have been found guilty of a $300m fraud.

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Osman Shahenshah

The United Kingdom’s special prosecuting authority, the Serious Fraud Office, yesterday disclosed that two former executives of Afren Plc have been found guilty of a $300 million fraud which they were accused of committing after side-dealing with Nigerian oil company – Oriental Energy Resources Limited.

The convicted former executives of Afren are Mr Osman Shahenshah and Mr Shahid Ullah, the company’s former Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operating Officer; respectively.

A statement on the SFO website said the convicted former executives of the leading UK oil company connived with the above-mentioned Afren’s oilfield Nigerian partner by agreeing to a side deal which enabled them to receive about 15% of the $300 million deal; that is some $45 million.

With this money, the two acquired luxury landed properties in such places as the British Virgin Islands as well as Mustique. A few other employees of Afren Plc and some others in Oriental Energy Resources Limited also benefited.

Afren Plc’s former executives, Osman Shahenshah and Shahid Ullah

The backstory: greed played a major role

According to the statement, Mr Ullah and Mr Shahenshah’s obviously-failed plan to defraud the company was devised after shareholders voted to reduce their initial salary packages of £6.6 million and £3.8 million (respectively).

They were said to have recommended the Nigerian transaction to the company’s Board, arguing that it is essential in order to maintain a good business partnership with Oriental Energy. Unfortunately, Afren’s unsuspecting Board approved payments, even as Mr Shahenshah and Ullah went ahead to successfully defraud the company.

Commenting on this development, the Director of Serious Fraud Office, Ms Lisa Osofsky, said pure greed was the motivation behind this crime. In her own words:

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 “Greed motivated this crime. Osman Shahenshah and Shahid Ullah failed in their duties as company directors, abused their positions and lied to their Board.

“Instead of acting in their company’s best interests, they used Afren like a personal bank account to fund an illicit deal, with no regard for the consequences.” – Osofsky

The convicted criminals will be sentenced on Monday, October 29th, the statement said.

More on this…

The Serious Fraud Office said it began investigating the company and its former bosses back in June 2015. The two men were then formerly accused in September 2017.

Note that Afren’s Nigerian partner, Oriental Energy Resources Limited, is a privately-held Nigerian company which was founded in 1990 by Nigerian billionaire, Dr Muhammed Indimi.

Emmanuel is a professional writer and business journalist, with interests covering Banking & Finance, Mergers and Acquisitions, Corporate Profiles, Brand Communication, Fintech, and MSMEs.He initially joined Nairametrics as an all-round Business Analyst, but later began focusing on and covering the financial services sector. He has also held various leadership roles, including Senior Editor, QAQC Lead, and Deputy Managing Editor.Emmanuel holds an M.Sc in International Relations from the University of Ibadan, graduating with Distinction. He also graduated with a Second Class Honours (Upper Division) from the Department of Philosophy & Logic, University of Ibadan.If you have a scoop for him, you may contact him via his email- [email protected] You may also contact him through various social media platforms, preferably LinkedIn and Twitter.

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Real Estate and Construction

Osborne, Ikoyi residents move against Lekki Gardens over planning laws violation

The residents accused owners of Lekki Gardens Estate of alleged flagrant and unchecked violation of officially approved building plans.

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Residents of Osborne Foreshore 2 estate, Ikoyi, have moved against a property development firm, Lekki Gardens/Foreshore Waters Limited for allegedly violating the state’s planning laws; in addition to the violation of the estate’s building plan and the existing plan to stop work forthwith.

This is as the residents of the estate have appealed to the Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, to order that works on all approvals for development in the estate be suspended for 3 months because of the ongoing review of the approval order.

According to a report from Thisday, the appeal is contained in a statement issued by the residents of Osborne Foreshore 2 estate, where they warned that refusal to stop further work might lead to a breakdown of law and order.

What the residents of Osborne Foreshore 2 estate are saying

The residents of the estate in their statement said, “We once again invite your Excellency to visit our estate to see for yourself how the activities of Richard Nyong will one day lead to a breakdown of law and order if this brazen disregard of planning laws of Lagos States is allowed to continue.”

They accused the developer of violating state’s planning laws in its quest to construct multi-storey structures in the expansive residential estate.

They also accused Richard Nyong, Lekki Gardens Estate and Foreshore Waters Limited of alleged flagrant and unchecked violation of officially approved building plans.

The estate management pointed out that other developers have since complied with these guidelines whereas Lekki Gardens had allegedly refused to do the same.

What the Chairperson of Osborne Foreshore Residents Association is saying

The Chairperson of Osborne Foreshore Residents Association, Mrs Chinwe Ezenwa-Mbah, had recently expressed reservations over the impact of the heavy construction by Lekki Gardens and other developers and how it is affecting the houses of other residents in the estate.

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She said, “When we got our plots, we were told that the place was designed as a low population residential area. We did not know that a time would come when this area would become a commercial area.

“When you come into an existing estate and you are doing piling that is breaking your neighbour’s foundations as well as against the approved plan given to you in the name of commercial development, that is not right.”

What you should know

  • It can be recalled that the relationship between Lekki Gardens and the management of Osborne Foreshore 2 Estate broke down after the latter insisted that the property developer must obey building permit laws given to it by both the Lagos State government and the resident association.
  • Several other landlords and Residents of Osborne Foreshore 11, have also complained about the activities of Lekki Gardens and other developers in the area whom they accused of violating the building permit given to them by the government.
  • The Lagos State Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Dr Idris Salako had held a meeting with all the stakeholders in a bid to amicably resolve the existing dispute.
  • The residents made an appeal to the Lagos State government for reversal of the wrongful classification of Osborne Foreshore Phase II from its original master plan as a low-density to a high-density residential estate.

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Business

The five-ingredient of a successful startup pitch

Every great pitch has these 5 ingredients to help you maximize your chances when fundraising for your startup.

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Startups typically prepare a pitch deck to present to potential investors for funding. A pitch deck is a brief presentation that provides investors with an overview of your business. It typically focuses on showcasing your product and business model. An excellent pitch is highly essential to the success of a startup seeking funding from investors.

According to Romeen Sheeth, an angel investor who heard 200 companies pitch and invested over $1million last year, every great pitch has these 5 ingredients to help you maximize your chances when fundraising.

  • Problem:  Is this an issue?
  • Solution:  Do you have the fix?
  • Market:   Is this a big enough issue?
  • Business: Can you make money
  • Team:  Do you have the human resources to do it?

The best pitches nail all 5. Good ones hit 4. Subpar hit 3 or less.

Problem

The problem statement is an explanation of why a set of circumstances is painful for a set of users. There’s one word in that sentence that is most important: painful. If your problem is not painful enough, it’s a vitamin. The best startups are pain killers.

Solution

The solution statement is an explanation of how you address the pain felt by your users. If you don’t have the right solution, you won’t get customer traction. Customers don’t buy your thesis on the pain point. They buy the actual thing that solves their pain point.

Market

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In tech, only businesses that have outsized potential get funded. To have outsized potential, you have to either be in a: (a) small, but rapidly growing market or (b) large existing market that can be resegmented. If not, the business is not venture backable.

Business

The business model defines how you print cash. What is the key insight you’ve figured out that other people haven’t? You don’t need to reinvent the wheel on everything to be a compelling business. Just explain the secret sauce that helps you capture the value.

Team

Everything else is academic if you can’t execute. Ultimately the investor is betting on your team’s ability to bring out the reality in the insights around the problem, solution, market, and business. Communicate why you are the best in the world to build the business.

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Once you feel good about these 5, think through the connection points. Every topic that comes up in the conversation will be a function of a connection point. For example:

  • Problem-Market = Industry Dynamics
  • Solution-Market = Competition
  • Market-Business = Unit Economics

Bottom line

When you pitch, always keep it simple. Understand the 5 core ingredients, think through how they relate to one another, communicate with clarity, and don’t assume investors understand your business.

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