January 15, 2020 / 11:27 PM / 14 days ago

Firm linked to Nigerian oil firm Lekoil welcomes loan scam probe

LAGOS, Jan 15 (Reuters) - A consultancy firm that allegedly arranged a fraudulent $184 million loan announced by Nigerian oil company Lekoil Ltd said on Wednesday that it welcomed an investigation into the matter.

Shares in Lekoil Ltd fell by more than 70% following a suspension of trading after the firm discovered the loan was fraudulent.

Lekoil had suspended trading of its shares on the London Stock Exchange on Monday after finding that the $184 million loan it had announced from the Qatar Investment Authority was a “complex facade” by individuals pretending to represent the QIA.

The supposed loan, which Lekoil said was arranged by a company called Seawave Invest Limited, was intended to develop the Ogo field within Oil Prospecting Licence 310.

The Nigerian oil company said it had paid $600,000 for brokering the fraudulent loan, much of it to Seawave, which on its website describes itself as an independent consultancy firm specialising in cross-border transactions in Africa.

“Seawave Invest Ltd welcomes Lekoil’s investigation and will remain available to the best of its abilities to assist,” the company said in response to an emailed request from Reuters for a comment.

“Seawave Invest Ltd will not make any comments at this stage whilst awaiting for the results of its own assessment and investigation of this matter,” it said.

A person who answered the phone at Bahamas-based Seawave directed Reuters to the law firm Holowesko Pyfrom Fletcher.

The law firm said in an emailed statement that the company “was and has always been inactive” and was struck off by the Registrar of Companies for default on Jan. 1. It said no one involved with Seawave had knowledge of or involvement in the scheme. (Reporting by Libby George; Writing by Alexis Akwagyiram Editing by Leslie Adler)

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