Osman Shahenshah and Shahid Ullah have received a total of 30 years for fraud and money laundering offences they had committed whilst they were CEO and Chief Operating Officer of Afren Plc.
The men were found guilty at trial earlier this month for a scheme they created to profit from business deals Afren made with its Nigerian oil partners, without the knowledge of Afren’s board of directors.
Shahenshah and Ullah laundered more than $45m from a $300m deal they recommended to Afren, using their illicit proceeds to purchase luxury properties in the Caribbean.
Sentencing Shahenshah, His Honour Judge Gledhill QC said:
“You believed that you were above the law, you believed that you were so clever that no one would ever discover your offending.”
Lisa Osofsky, Director of the Serious Fraud Office said:
“The significant sentences reflect the seriousness of this fraud. Shahenshah and Ullah violated their duties and their employees, the board of directors and shareholders paid the price.
“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 and Ullah hatched their scheme to secretly increase their income when faced with the possibility of lower remuneration in the future after shareholders rejected their £6.6m and £3.8m salary packages in 2013.
Shahenshah and Ullah recommended that the Afren Board agree to a $300m payment to Oriental Energy Resources Ltd, the company’s oil field partner in Nigeria. Unknown to the Afren board, Shahenshah and Ullah had struck a side deal with Oriental which led to 15% of the $300m being paid out to a Caribbean shell company controlled by the defendants.