SFO Ruling Clears Soma Oil & Gas
14 December 2016
Soma Oil & Gas Oil & Gas Exploration Limited
(“Soma Oil & Gas” or “the Company”)
SFO Ruling Clears Soma Oil & Gas
Soma Oil & Gas (“Soma”) is pleased to announce that it has today received a letter from the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (“SFO”) confirming that it has closed its investigation into allegations of corruption that had been made against Soma by third parties.
Soma co-operated fully with the SFO, provided unrestricted access to documents, data and its staff and even waived legal professional privilege over confidential material in order to assist the SFO in investigating what have been shown to be unfounded allegations made by the UN Somalia & Eritrea Monitoring Group (“SEMG”) in its interim report in the summer of 2015.
In August 2015, the Company wrote a letter of complaint about the contents of that report to the Chairman of the Security Council (“UNSC”). Subsequently, the UNSC requested the Federal Government of Somalia (“FGS”) to investigate the allegations submitted by the SEMG to the UNSC. The Prime Minister of Somalia appointed an independent committee, chaired by a member of the World Bank, to investigate the matter and a full report was sent to the UNSC on 16 November 2015. This report confirmed that the allegations made by the SEMG about the Somali Ministry of Petroleum & Mineral Resources and the Company were false and unsubstantiated.
Soma welcomes the end of the SFO’s investigation and looks forward to executing its plan to further explore what is believed to be very considerable hydrocarbon potential offshore Somalia in 2017 and beyond.
Lord Howard of Lympne, CH, PC, QC, the Chairman of Soma, said:
Today’s announcement is a welcome vindication of the Company and its directors and validates the ethical and transparent governance of Soma which has been in place since the Company was founded in April 2013.
We acknowledge that the SFO had no alternative but to investigate the allegations which originated from the SEMG but we are disappointed that the SEMG’s position was so obviously partisan and completely out of alignment with the international community which has a clear interest and duty in helping Somalia to rebuild its economy in a fair and transparent manner.
I wish to acknowledge the hard work of our directors, our management team, our legal advisers and the SFO for the professional role that they have played in bringing this matter to a conclusion as soon as possible.”
Richard Anderson, Chief Executive of Soma, said:
“Despite their large caseload, the SFO dedicated considerable resource to fully investigate the SEMG’s allegations against Soma. This has resulted in decision to close the investigation in what we are assured is an unusually short time, ending a very frustrating episode which resulted in a considerable expenditure of time, money and manpower. Soma is now able to focus fully on the next stage of its growth.
As a member of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, we look forward to implementing the next phase of our strategy in the knowledge that our business dealings with the Federal Government of Somalia, and our Company’s processes and governance, have been set at the highest levels of compliance. The forensic analysis conducted by the UK’s SFO was of course an unwelcome distraction but it has fortified us in our belief that Soma is well placed to deal with the challenges of hydrocarbon exploration in this part of the world. We will continue to be vigilant about those who wish to undermine our success rather than to share in it, and we look forward to continuing our partnership with The Federal Government of Somalia and other forward looking parties.”
Media Contacts: Legal Advisors:
FTI Consulting DLA Piper Byrne & Partners
Ben Brewerton or Sara Powell Simon Airey Matthew Frankland
Phone: +44 (0) 203 727 1000