A United Arab Emirates-based, publicly traded energy company agreed to pay $5 million in a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) resolving fraud charges related to a scheme to inflate revenues.
Brooge Energy went public through a special purpose acquisition company transaction in December 2019. The company “misstated between 30 and 80 percent of its revenues from 2018 through early 2021 in SEC filings related to the offer and sale of up to $500 million of securities,” the agency said in a press release Friday.
Also reaching settlement with the SEC were the company’s former chief executive officer, Nicolaas Lammert Paardenkooper, and former chief strategy officer and interim CEO, Lina Saheb, for their alleged roles in the scheme. They each agreed to pay $100,000 penalties and be permanently barred from serving as an officer or director at any SEC issuer.
The details: The alleged scheme at Brooge was built around two sets of invoices, the SEC detailed in its order.
The first set consisted of ordinary invoices to customers who stored oil at Brooge’s facilities in Fujairah, United Arab Emirates. The second set reflected significantly higher rates and volumes and were purportedly sent to customers who never used Brooge’s facilities, per the order.
“These invoices were ‘paid’ through a complicated series of unsupported transactions involving an affiliated or related party,” the SEC said.
Brooge allegedly only provided the second set of invoices to its outside auditors, along with falsified documents to support the inflated rates and volumes on the invoices.
Compliance considerations: Through the alleged scheme, Brooge sought to inflate revenues from its Fujairah oil facilities by more than $70 million over three years.
The company agreed to not issue the $500 million in securities while being investigated by the SEC, the agency said, and restated its financial statements from 2018-20 in April to correct its inflated revenues.
Paardenkooper and Saheb were charged for knowing, or being reckless in not knowing, of the alleged fraud scheme at Brooge.
Brooge did not respond to a request for comment. The company and its former executives neither admitted nor denied the SEC’s findings in reaching settlement.