Regulators Urged to Wade into Sea Trucks Group’s Imbroglio

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Peter Uzoho

A civil society organisation, Campaign Against Impunity (CAI), has called on the federal government and relevant authorities in the oil and gas industry to urgently intervene in the alleged liquidation and takeover of West African Ventures Limited, by expatriates brought into the company by its Dutch-Nigerian founder, Jacques Roomans.

Speaking at a press conference in Lagos on Wednesday, the group through its Coordinator, Mr. Sina Oloremikan, specifically pleaded with the federal government and its agencies including the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, National Petroleum Investment Management Services, and the National Office of Technology Acquisition and Promotion, to urgently intervene

in the matter.

According to him, West African Ventures was an offshore engineering company established in Nigeria in 1995 as an umbrella organisation responsible for all Sea Trucks Groups (STG) businesses in Nigeria and managed by expatriates, Fraser Moore, Stephen Assiter, Graham Pennycook and others, brought into the company by Roomans in 2002.

He said the businesses of the company were largely managed by Fraser, its chief operating officer/managing director for many years, and that the expatriates led by Fraser, later lured Roomans to take a $575million bond in 2013 with a nine per cent interest per annum, for the growth of the business.

He narrated that the crisis started when Fraser’s demand to be made the CEO of the company was turned down, and he resorted to conspiring with his other expatriates to scheme Roomans out of the company and

succeeded in hijacking it from him.

Oloremikan maintained that such act of impunity by the expatriates to hijack the company from its rightful owner and lack of action by the government and its agencies encourages expatriates to endanger the activities of indigenous companies, noting that, if allowed to continue, would lead to huge economic loss to the country.

He said: “We are asking that the case of STG in liquidation/Telford be closely monitored and that government ensures adherence to the rule of law. We are already noticing the gross disobedience of Nigerian laws in this case and are concerned at the audacity of expatriates in our country, committing this kind of impunity.

“In a suit filed by WAV against the liquidators on June 20, 2017, WAV had applied for an order of interim injunction restraining the liquidators from taking any steps or undertaking any business. The

case with suit number FHC/L/CS/968/2017 was presided over by Chuka Austine Obiozor, a justice of the Federal High Court in Lagos. And after the consideration of the application, the court ordered that the parties maintain status quo pending further order.

“Similarly, in another case, with suit number FHC/L/CS/1114/2017, filed on June 17, 2017, Obiozor again, ordered at the parties to maintain status quo pending further order on the matter.

WAV believes that maintaining status quo means the company would continue to operate the OOIM vessels fleet in Nigeria without any interference,”

He also appealed to the government and the regulators to be alive to their responsibility to protect lawful Nigerian companies creating value in the Nigerian oil and gas industry from unlawful activities of expatriates.