The U.K. Serious Fraud Office said that it is conducting a criminal investigation into oil and gas exploration company, Afren, concerning secret agreements with their joint venture partners in Nigeria.

Afren's former chief executive officer, Osman Shahenshah, and former chief operating officer, Shahid Ullah, were both charged with fraud and money laundering offences before Westminster Magistrates Court, on 27 September 2017.

Shahenshah and Ullah have both been charged with the following offences:

Two counts of fraud by abuse of position, contrary to sections 1 and 4 of the Fraud Act 2006;

One count of money laundering, contrary to section 328 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002; and

One count of money laundering, contrary to section 329 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

Shahenshah and Ullah stand accused over payments they received via secret companies they controlled relating to over $400m of Nigeria business deals.

In a related civil case, the administrators, Alix Partners, claim the alleged fraud contributed to the collapse of the $2.6 billion oil giant and are seeking damages in excess of $500 million from the defendants and a Nigerian associate.