UK: Serious Fraud Office sees execs jailed in $45m money laundering scam
30 Oct 2018

Two Afren executives have been sentenced to a total of 30 years for a scheme which saw them profit from business deals the firm made with its Nigerian oil partners, without the knowledge of its board of directors.

According to the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), former Afren CEO Osman Shahenshah and Chief Operating Officer Shahid Ullah recommended that the Afren Board agree to a $300m payment to Oriental Energy Resources Ltd, the company’s oil field partner in Nigeria.

However, they did not let the board know that they had struck a side deal with Oriental which led to 15% of the $300m being paid out to a Caribbean shell company controlled by them.

The pair then used the $45m to purchase luxury properties in Mustique and the British Virgin Islands, the SFO said, adding that a smaller portion of the $45m laundered was split between Oriental employees and a close network of Afren staff dubbed ‘The A Team’.

On Monday they were sentenced to a total of 30 years in prison.

SFO director Lisa Osofsky said: “They abused their positions to line their own pockets and it is satisfying that they have been brought to justice.

“I would like to thank our international partners in the US Department of Justice, who greatly assisted with our investigation.”

Shahenshah’s lawyer said he would be appealing against the conviction, adding that: “With regard to the two money laundering counts, the monies in question belonged to Oriental Energy Resources Limited and were being dealt with in accordance with an agreement signed with them in order to retain and incentivise key staff at their Ebok oil field. It is not the case that the monies were stolen from Afren.”

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