Ejiofor Alike
A Federal High Court in Lagos and presided over by Justice Hadiza R. Shagari has issued an order granting leave to Suntrust Oil Company Nigeria Limited to serve winding up petition, verifying affidavit and other supporting documents in respect of suit number FHC/L/CP/402/2018 to San Leon Energy Plc.

The order of the court followed the refusal of the respondent to accept the winding up petition, verifying affidavit and other supporting documents from a courier company.

The court also granted Suntrust’s application for leave to advertise the winding up petition, affidavit and other processes and supporting documents on San Leon in the Republic of Ireland, outside the jurisdiction of the court at the respondents registered office.
The presiding judge, who also ordered that such service be effected by way of airmail courier service at San Leon Energy’s registered office at First Floor, Wilton Park House, Wilton Place, Dublin 2, Republic Ireland.

THISDAY gathered that the order became necessary because San Leon was delibrately avoiding service.
The judge granted the orders after listening to Dr. Kubi Udofia from the law firm of Professor Fidelis Oditah (QC, SAN).
In the suit number FHC/L/CP/402/2018, Suntrust Oil is seeking to wind up San Leon Energy, a limited liability company incorporated in the Republic of Ireland over failure to pay it the sum of $47,689,123.

Suntrust Oil, in a petition to the court, alleged that the Irish firm was indebted to it to the tune of $47,689,123 as of March 14, 2018.
According to Suntrust, the amount was pursuant to an irrevocable and unconditional payment undertaking issued by San Leon Energy to the petitioner in which San Leon irrevocably and unconditionally undertook to pay the sum of $53,839,123 to the petitioner on or before November 30, 2016, out of which the debt remains due.

The petitioner added that the debt excludes further interest, which has accrued since September 20, 2016, to which San Leon remains indebted.
The particulars of the debt as submitted to the court by Suntrust Oil showed that in June 2016, Suntrust Oil sold shares to Midwestern Leon Petroleum Limited in return for the payment of the sum of $53,839,123.

The court documents showed Suntrust Oil had acquired the sale shares with the proceeds of a loan from Guaranty Trust Bank, which amounted to $53,839,123.
Suntrust Oil further told the court that in or about August 2016, San Leon Energy took over the sale shares from its affiliate Midwestern Leon in return for payment of GTB loan to Suntrust.

According to the petitioner, San Leon Energy had informed it that it (respondent) would pay the GTB loan from the proceeds of sale of its shares, which at that time were the subject of an application for admission to the London Stock Exchange’s Alternative Investment Market.

In an irrevocable payment guarantee dated September 20, 2016, San Leon was quoted by Suntrust as stating that “San Leon Energy hereby issue this irrevocably and unconditionally guarantee to Suntrust, that San Leon shall pay sums due under the GTB loan and GTB loan interest. San Leon hereby confirms that the GTB loan and GTB loan interest shall be fully paid and discharged on or before November 30, 2016.”

SunTrust, however, added that San Leon has made only three small payments and defaulted on the terms of the guarantee.
“The respondent has made three small payments in respect of principal and interest pursuant to its irrevocable payment guarantee as follows: December 21, 2016 – $1.35 million; March 8, 2017 – $4 million and $800,000. Notwithstanding the three payments referred to in the preceding paragraph, the respondent has failed or refused to pay and discharge the debt. Your petitioner reasonably believes that the respondent is insolvent and unable to pay its debts,” said Suntrust in the petition.