Ex-oil boss facing prison term after deceiving investors
Friday 24 December 1999
The conviction of John O'Brien brings to a conclusion an intriguing case which has lasted four months. The court heard the oil boss gave advisers a tour of an oil well which he pretended belonged to the company, while O'Brien's secretary told the court lying was standard practice in the City.
O'Brien was convicted of two offences of forgery and two of false accounting in 1994 and 1995, when the company successfully raised pounds 7.2m in a rights issue to fund drilling in Lousiana. He had a stake in the company held in off-shore accounts.
Anthony Shaw, QC, for the Serious Fraud Office, said Williams de Broe, the company's advisers, had not been told the company's flagship well, Valentine 14, had proved to be dry and Alliance's lease to exploit the oilfield had expired.
"If they had seen Valentine 14 in March 1995 sitting in a pond amid mud and debris, it would have been a disaster," he said. "[O'Brien] instructed they be shown another well and pretend it was Valentine 14. The deception was successful."
The real Valentine 14 well was standing in "a duck pond", incapable of producing sufficient gas even "to fill a cigarette lighter".
The court also heard that O'Brien instructed his secretary to fabricate letters to make it look as though Alliance had struck a deal to sell gas from the field. Christine Allan, who was granted immunity from prosecution by the SFO, told the court she had sought to protect O'Brien.
O'Brien, who now runs a hotel business after being removed in a boardroom coup in 1995, is to be sentenced in February. He was cleared of one charge of forgery. Judge Peter Fingret discharged the jury from returning verdicts on two further charges of forgery and two under the Financial Services Act after the jurors failed to reach a verdict.
Throughout the case O'Brien claimed he was the victim of a fraud being run by a colleague. He said he had never claimed Valentine 14 was productive.
- 1 Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
- 2 The secret report that helps Israelis to hide facts
- 3 Danish TV reporter is all business up top, all party down below
- 4 Ross Burden dead: MasterChef and Ready Steady Cook star, dies aged 45
- 5 Businessman charged £75 for three small bottles of water in London hotel
Danish TV reporter is all business up top, all party down below
Israel-Gaza conflict: President Obama presses Netanyahu to call ‘immediate and unconditional’ Gaza ceasefire
Ross Burden dead: MasterChef and Ready Steady Cook star, dies aged 45
Zayn Malik on Israel-Gaza: One Direction singer bombarded with Twitter death threats after posting #FreePalestine
MH17 crash: Black boxes show plane suffered 'massive explosive decompression' following shrapnel hit
The secret report that helps Israelis to hide facts
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Were 'Poor Doors' added to mixed developments so wealthy residents don't have to go in alongside social housing tenants?
A new Russian revolution: The cracks are starting to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Opponents of Israel's military operation in Gaza are the real enemies of Middle Eastern peace
iJobs Money & Business
Data Governance Manager (Solvency II) – Contract – Up to £450 daily rate, 6 month (may go Permanent)
£350 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently looking...
£500 - £560 per day: Orgtel: Java Developer FX - Banking - London - Up to £560...
£350 - £400 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...
£26000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Account Manager - (Produc...