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Former Afren CEO Osman Shahenshah. Image courtesy of Bloomberg/Youtube.

Afren fired its CEO Osman Shahenshah and COO Shahid Ullah Tuesday for “gross misconduct” following an investigation into unauthorized payments both men allegedly received.

An external investigation conducted by UK law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher found that Shahenshah, Ullah and associate directors Iain Wright and Galib Virani received unauthorized payments from third parties.

Wright and Virani have also been fired for breaching the company’s remuneration policy.

Seven current and former employees also received payments.

The investigation also uncovered improper payments connected to a $400 million loan Afren gave to Nigeria-based Oriental Energy Resources in 2013.

Investigators found that Shahenshah and Ullah had Oriental pay $45 million to British Virgin Islands-based Ntiti Limited to facilitate the loans.

The company, controlled by both men, used the Oriental payments to dole out $17.1 million in bonuses to Shahenshah and Ullah.

Afren’s former business manager Faiz Iman and nine other Afren employees also received bonuses from Ntiti.

The report said this arrangement was never discussed with Afren’s board.

The majority of the loans have been paid off and Afren suffered no material loss from the transactions.

Investigators also identified two instances of the company failing to comply with its reporting obligations under the UK’s listing rule.

The company said it will recover the unauthorized payments and will take legal action if necessary.