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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 13 November 2018

UK court orders Nigerian CEO and deputy to pay $680 million

Wale Tinubu and Mofe Boyo, behind Nigerian companies Oando and Whitmore, must pay cash owed to Ansbury over stake sale

The Nigerian SEC and central bank are based in Abuja. The SEC investigated the two execs' firms. Reuters
The Nigerian SEC and central bank are based in Abuja. The SEC investigated the two execs' firms. Reuters

A London court ordered two companies owned by Wale Tinubu, the chief executive of Nigerian energy company Oando, and his deputy, Mofe Boyo, to pay $680 million to Ansbury Investment after a dispute over shareholding and financial management.

The London Court of International Arbitration ruled that Ocean and Oil Development Partners, a company incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, which owns 55.96 per cent of Oando through a holding company, is indebted to Ansbury to the tune of $600m, Ansbury spokesman Bolaji Akinola said.

Whitmore Asset Management, also owned by Mr Tinubu and Mr Boyo, owed Ansbury $80m, Mr Akinola said.

The dispute, which arose in 2017, is related to the investment in 2012 by Ansbury of $700m to acquire a 61.9 per cent stake in Ocean and Oil Development Partners, a special-purpose vehicle in which Whitmore held the remaining 38.1 per cent.

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Ansbury, owned by the family of Nigerian-Italian businessman Gabriele Volpi, petitioned Nigeria’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in 2017 over allegations of financial mismanagement, indebtedness and falsification of financial statements, Mr Akinola said. The SEC in October ordered a probe into Oando and suspended the stock after a review of the company found possible insider dealings and discrepancies in its shareholding structure.

While the Abuja-based SEC lifted the trading ban on Oando in April, it continued with the investigation into the company.

Oando shares slumped 9.4 per cent to 5.80 naira at the close in Lagos Monday, the biggest drop in a year.

Mr Tinubu didn’t respond to an email seeking comment. Oando itself isn’t in any way indebted to Ansbury Investments and wasn’t party to the arbitration, the company said.