Business World

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Oil firm backed by Sean FitzPatrick targeted in armed robbery

Philip Ryan

Published 27/04/2014 | 02:30

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Former Anglo Chairman Sean FitzPatrick
Former Anglo Chairman Sean FitzPatrick

A NIGERIAN oil firm backed by former Anglo chief Sean FitzPatrick was targeted in an armed robbery alleged by the company's former chairman to be an "inside job".

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Former vice-admiral of the Nigerian navy, Victor Ombu, who chaired the board of the oil company, claims the robbery was foiled and the firm "took action to discourage" other attacks.

Mr FitzPatrick is believed to have invested $40m in the oil field and it was thought the investment would help clear his €110m Anglo debts.

However, it has since emerged that a potential buyout of the Ekeh oil field, which is owned by Movido Exploration, has fallen through.

Mr Ombu also invested in the project along with Mr FitzPatrick and former Dublin Dockland Development Authority chairman Lar Bradshaw.

Speaking to the Sunday Independent, Mr Ombu told how the exploration project was targeted by an armed criminal gang which he believes were aided by someone working within the firm.

He said an arrangement had been made to have his workers paid on site.

"The armed robbers were expecting the accountant to take the money to the rig. At the last minute common sense prevailed and the accountant didn't go."

Mr Ombu said that on the night of the raid an armed gang came on to the rig at midnight, looking for the accountant.

"It was the accountant and the money on the rig they were looking for. The aim was not to attack the Movido rig. It was the money," he said.

The admiral, who is originally from the area where the oil field is based, said the company was able to identify some of the gun men.

"We were able to recognise one or two so we went after them," Mr Ombu said. "We gave them to the police – and we have other ways of dealing with them at home."

He added: "We took action to discourage others."

The admiral also told how he enjoyed a "few drinks and a few dinners" in Dublin with Mr FitzPatrick, whom he found to be a "very likeable gentleman".

He said he was "shocked" to hear about the former Anglo chairman's legal difficulties and was happy he had been cleared of the charges.

"It affected his health and I was worried for him," he told the Sunday Independent.

Mr FitzPatrick borrowed a reported $40m from Anglo Irish Bank when he was chairman to invest in the Ekeh oil field which is based off the southern coasts of Nigeria.

His share of the field is currently owned by his bankruptcy assignee. It was hoped a potential buyout from Cayman Island-based oil firm Midway Resources would clear his debts. However, Midway Resources CEO Peter Worthington said his company initially planned to take over the field but an agreement could not be reached with Movido Exploration.

"We are no longer in negotiations with the firm and we have no intention of buying the field," he said.

Sunday Independent

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