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Two former executives at the British oil explorer Afren are to be charged with a £300 million fraud that is alleged to have led to the collapse of the business.
Osman Shahenshah and Shahid Ullah, who were Afren’s chief executive and chief operating officer respectively, face criminal charges relating to deals in Nigeria, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) said.
They will appear this morning at Westminster magistrates’ court charged with charged with two counts of fraud by abuse of position, contrary to the Fraud Act 2006, and two counts of money laundering, contrary to the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
The SFO also celebrated a significant victory in another case, as FH Bertling, a logistics company, and six of its former employees were convicted of conspiracy to make corrupt payments to an Angolan state oil company agent.
The convictions were announced at the end of the trial of another defendant, Peter Ferdinand, 78, who was acquitted at Southwark crown court on Thursday.
All of the defendants had pleaded guilty to the £15 million fraud, which SFO officials said was aimed at securing and retaining freight and forwarding business in Angola.
Jose Morreale, 62, and Stephen Emler, 49, had pleaded guilty to the charges at a hearing this month. Joerg Blumberg, 71, Ralf Petersen, who has since died, Dirk Juergensen, 46, and Marc Schweiger, 47, pleaded guilty in March. The company pleaded guilty at a hearing in August.
“This is a clear example of the SFO holding a company and its senior executives to account for corrupt behaviour,” David Green, QC, the SFO director, said.
He added: “Corrupt practice by British companies such as this undermines the UK’s reputation as a safe place to do business and distorts the market, not to mention the damage it causes in the countries where the bribes are paid.”