Lekoil launches loan scam investigations

The alleged loan scam rocking Lekoil Limited has eaten deep into the fabrics of the firm’s shares, as the stock down by 73%, when it closed at 2.50 pence on the London Stock Exchange on Tuesday.

This followed the suspension placed on the shares after the oil firm discovered that a $184 million loan it had announced from the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) was fraudulent.

What it means: The loan was said to be a “complex facade” by individuals pretending to represent the QIA, as the Qatari firm denied offering such funds to the company.

It should be noted that when Lekoil announced it had secured the $184 million loan on January 2, 2019, its shares doubled, rising above 11 pence.

The company, which operates in Nigeria and other West African countries, announced that the credit facility was provided by QIA and facilitated by a consultant firm, Seawave Invest Limited. But QIA representatives contacted Lekoil to distance the Qatar firm from the funds.

What this denial means for Lekoil: Lekoil Limited secured the $184 million funding to finance the drilling and all initial development plans on the Ogo field within Oil Prospecting Lease, OPL 310. But with the Qatar firm denying ever approving such credit, Lekoil now has to find nearly $40 million by next month in order not to be forced to sell its 17.14% stake in OPL 310.

According to a report by Reuters, Lekoil has to make a payment of $10 million to Optimum Petroleum Development Company Limited next month. Also, in the same February, Lekoil needs to prove it can secure $28 million required to fund its portion of appraisal well drilling for OPL 310.

More denial trails the loan: For facilitating the loan, Lekoil stated that it paid Bahamas-based Seawave Invest Limited, but Seawave’s representative, Holowesko Pyfrom Fletcher (HPF, a law firm) said the company had always been inactive.

The report further stated that the Registrar of Companies struck off Seawave on January 1 while the law firm said no representative of Seawave was involved in the scheme or had knowledge about it.

“Furthermore, none of the proceeds of such alleged acts have ever come into the possession of the company, its officers or directors. HPF will cooperate to the fullest extent with the relevant Bahamian authorities if called upon to do so,” the statement said.