The U.K. Serious Fraud Office announced it has secured orders confiscating £5.45 million (U.S. $7 million) from two former executives of oil and gas exploration company Afren.
Afren’s former chief executive officer, Osman Shahenshah, and former chief operating officer, Shahid Ullah, were both charged with fraud and money laundering offenses before Westminster Magistrates Court in September 2017. Each was found guilty of one count of fraud and two counts of money laundering by a Southwark Crown Court in October 2018.
According to the SFO, both personally stood to gain over $17 million resulting from payments they received via secret companies they controlled relating to over $400 million of Nigerian business deals. Having secretly put this deal in place, Shahenshah and Ullah recommended to the Afren board a $300 million payment to the Nigerian oil partners, Oriental Energy Resources.
When this payment was made, Shahenshah and Ullah, along with some staff at the Nigerian partner and a close network of Afren staff dubbed “The A Team,” received $45 million from the deal. Shahenshah and Ullah used this money to purchase luxury properties in Mustique and the British Virgin Islands, the SFO said. On July 31, the SFO announced Shahenshah was ordered to pay approximately £2.9 million (U.S. $3.7 million), while Ullah was ordered to pay approximately £2.5 million (U.S. $3.2 million).
“These men reacted to shareholder concerns about their high remuneration by defrauding the very company that paid them,” said SFO Director Lisa Osofsky in a statement. “Their selfish actions showed cynical disregard for the law, their colleagues, and common decency.”