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.
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:
“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.
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.