Fake loan victim Lekoil steps up production

27 January 2020, 11:34

A Shell oil tanker
Lekoil ups production. Picture: PA

The business was allegedly conned into thinking it had won a 600,000 US dollar (£460,000) loan from Qatar.

The London-listed oil company that was allegedly tricked into thinking it had won major investment from Qatar has speeded up production at its Nigerian oil field.

Lekoil said it produced 2,344 barrels of oil per day (bopd) in the first few weeks of 2020 from its Otakikpo oil field.

In 2019 the same field produced 2,122 bopd, down from 2,138 bopd in 2018.

On Saturday it sold oil to Shell for seven million dollars (£5.3 million), and will sell a similar quantity within the next six weeks.

“Otakikpo continues to provide steady production and cash flow for Lekoil,” said chief executive Lekan Akinyanmi.

Shares rose as much as 24%, or 0.29p to 329p, but later fell back and were trading up 0.08p at 308p.

The business made headlines earlier this month after revealing that it had been tricked into thinking it had negotiated a 184 million dollar (£140 million) loan from the Qatari sovereign wealth fund.

Lekoil’s shares rocketed after it announced the investment to fund a new project, a major vote of confidence from one of the world’s largest investors.

However, days later, representatives of the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) contacted the oil company to say they had no record of such a deal. Lekoil warned the markets and set out to find what had happened.

The oil company said it was introduced to people purporting to be from the fund by a consultancy called Seawave Invest.

Seawave is incorporated in the Bahamas and claims to have worked with a number of companies. However it identifies none of its staff on its website.

After queries by the PA news agency and other media, Seawave removed photographs showing a meeting with the chief executive of a Canadian healthcare company.

This was the only part of the website with links to any person, as four unidentified men were pictured next to the chief executive.

It lists a post box in Ghana as its address, and has been struck off in the Bahamas.

Lekoil said it had hired an outside company to perform due diligence on Seawave, before paying it the lion’s share of 600,000 dollars (£460,000) in an introduction and advisory fee.

The Times later reported that the due diligence report was done by Control Risks, an international risk consultancy.

However, it was later forced to conclude that the people to whom Seawave had introduced management had “constructed a complex facade in order to masquerade as representatives of the QIA”.

By Press Association

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