By YOURI KEMP
Tribune Business Reporter
A major Bahamian law firm yesterday said it will fully co-operate with any local investigation after a former client denied involvement in a much-publicised alleged scam involving a Nigerian oil explorer.
Holowesko, Pyfrom, and Fletcher confirmed in a statement to Tribune Business that it had formerly served as the registered agent for Seawave Invest, a company that purportedly received $600,000 from Lekoil in return for arranging a $184m loan from the Qatari Investment Authority (QIA).
London-listed Lekoil announced the loan deal early in the New Year, only to subsequently be embarrassed and claim it had been scammed after the Qataris questioned the “the validity” of the January 2, 2020, deal and said they had never agreed to provide such debt financing.
However, Holowesko, Pyfrom, and Fletcher said Seawave Invest, which had “always been inactive” and was struck off the Bahamian companies registry on New Year’s Day 2020 for non-compliance, had informed it that it, too, was a victim of whatever had occurred. The company’s directors said it had never received the alleged $600,000, and were unaware of any dealings with Lekoil or Qatar.
“Holowesko, Pyfrom and Fletcher provided the registered office to Seawave Invest (the company) which was incorporated on October 28, 2016. The Company was, and has always been, inactive and was struck off by the Registrar of Companies for default on January 1, 2020,” said the Bahamian law firm, which numbers ex-Senate president and current ‘ease of doing business’ committee chair, Lynn Holowesko, among its partners.
“Holowesko, Pyfrom and Fletcher is instructed by the company’s directors to state that whatever acts may have been done by persons purporting to represent the company, neither the company nor any of its officers and directors have any knowledge or involvement in such acts.
“Furthermore, none of the proceeds of such alleged acts have ever come into the possession of the company, its officers or directors. Holowesko, Pyfrom and Fletcher will co-operate to the fullest extent with the relevant Bahamian authorities if called upon to do so. We have not been contacted by any local authorities, nor have we been contacted by authorities abroad.”
Tribune Business reached out to Holowesko, Pyfrom and Fletcher after research showed Seawave Invest’s website contained both its office phone number and address at the Templeton Building at Lyford Cay. The website showed its operational base as an address in Ghana.
Lekoil, which is listed in London’s AIM (alternative investment market), was forced to temporarily suspend trading in its shares earlier this week due to the controversy. It had just appointed Mark Simmonds, the UK’s former Africa minister under ex-prime minister, David Cameron, when the alleged scam was uncovered.
Seawave Invest’s website says the firm provides services in investment banking, public-private partnerships and corporate advisory and research, including acquisition and investment advisory, with a focus on Africa.