London Stock Exchange suspends Nigeria’s Lekoil shares trading over $184 million loan ‘complex facade’

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LAGOS, Jan 13 – Trading in shares of Nigerian oil company Lekoil was suspended on the London Stock Exchange on Monday when the company said it had discovered that an announced $184 million loan agreement with the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) was fraudulent.

The suspension of shares in Lekoil, which first listed in London in 2013, were halted after an official with the QIA approached Lekoil to query the validity of the loan.

“The loan agreement announced on 2 January 2020 by the company, purportedly with the Qatar Investment Authority seems to have been entered into by the company with individuals who have constructed a complex facade in order to masquerade as representatives of the QIA,” Lekoil said in a statement on Monday evening.

A source familiar with the developments said the QIA first found out about the loan when Lekoil issued the statement on Jan. 2 and contacted the company immediately to tell them the loan was not legitimate.

Lekoil said it had paid $600,000 to a company called Seawave Invest Limited, “an independent consultancy firm specialising in cross-border transactions with an exclusive focus on Africa”, as an initial arrangement fee to introduce it to people purporting to be the QIA. It said it had not paid anything to “the presumed counterparty.”

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