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Published On: Thu, Oct 15th, 2015

Soma Oil & Gas lobbies UK for help in Somalia despite Serious Fraud Office inquiry

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wasiirka somalia iyo madaxa shirkadasamaoilandgasLondon(ANN)Soma Oil and Gas, the energy explorer chaired by the former Conservative Party leader Michael Howard, has been lobbying the Government to take actions that would help its operations in Somalia, even as the Serious Fraud Office is investigating the company for alleged corruption there.

Soma Oil was set up in 2013 to be a first mover into Somalia’s oil wealth after the tentative peace in the war-torn country. Its work was financed with $50m (£32m) from a Russian billionaire. However, earlier this year the SFO launched an investigation into claims that it had been making improper payments to Somali officials – claims which Soma denies vigorously.

Documents obtained through a freedom of information request show that a Soma non-executive director, the Earl of Clanwilliam, a Conservative peer and donor, continued lobbying the Government despite the inquiry.

In a letter to Department for International Development minister Grant Shapps, beginning with an informal “Dear Grant”, the Earl requested help fighting a potential UN-enforced moratorium on Somalia striking oil deals.

Fearing renewed bloodshed, UN monitors say such a ban is needed until the nascent government has proper agreements set up to share oil income fairly around the country. But the Earl writes to Mr Shapps: “We hope that HM Government will oppose any such idea and urge other governments to do the same.” He requests a meeting to “explain” the situation.

However, Mr Shapps – in a response beginning “Dear Lord Clanwilliam,” apparently rebuffs the request, saying a DfID-funded report last year identified the Somali oil industry’s “high risk as a potential driver of conflict in the absence of a revenue-sharing agreement between the federal government of Somalia and Somalia’s regions”.

He adds: “While we continue to offer security briefings and political updates … we do not – and have not – lobbied on behalf of oil companies for contracts in the sector.”

Barnaby Pace, of the environmental and human rights campaign group Global Witness, said: “The UK Government has taken the right decision not to back Soma Oil and Gas’s deal to immediately exploit Somalia’s oil, especially while the company is being investigated for payments to Somali officials.”

Soma said: “As a British company, Soma is entitled to advise the FCO on its business activity in Somalia, especially when the FCO has actively encouraged British companies to invest there to drive social and economic development in-country.”
Source: independent

Araweelo News Network
Somaliland Office
Twitter: Arraale M Jama @Araweelonews

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About the Author

- Arraale Mohamoud Jama Freelance Journalist and Human Rights Activist Arraale, is a 20 year experience as a professional Journalist and human rights activist Over the years, worked for the major News Papers in Somaliland as a reporter, editor and contributor. 2008 established website Araweelo News Network, he currently runs a web site based in Somaliland. who is the specializes in the investigation and reporting on issues relating to human rights, democracy, and good governance. contact: Send an SMS or MMS to + 252 63 442 5380 WhatsApp + 252 63 4764409 + 252 65 910 7347.

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