UK oil executives arraigned over $400m fraud in Nigeria

Former Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operating Officer of Afren, Osman Shahenshah and Shahid Ullah have been charged with criminal offences over payments of over $400 million they received via secret companies in business deals in Nigeria.

They both run Afren, a London-listed oil and gas exploration business.

The duo, who appeared in Westminster magistrates court on Tuesday, were charged with two counts of money laundering and two counts of fraud.

“The alleged fraud is claimed to have led to the collapse of the $2.6bn oil giant by their administrators, who in related civil claims are seeking damages in excess of $500m from the defendants and a Nigerian associate,” UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) said in a statement.

“(They) stand accused over payments they received via secret companies they controlled relating to millions of dollar business deals in Nigeria.

“Afren, which was a FTSE 250-listed company until it collapsed in 2015, reported itself to the SFO after details of the alleged secret payments were detailed in an independent review by the US law firm, Willkie Farr & Gallagher.”

In a counterclaim, Shahenshah alleged that the Afren board knew about the payments from Oriental Resources. He claimed wrongful dismissal and said the scandal had damaged his reputation.

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