Ex-oil boss facing prison term after deceiving investors

A FORMER chief executive of Alliance Resources, the oil exploration company, is facing prison after being convicted of deceiving investors over the prospects for its oil assets.

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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Payments Operations Assistant

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They win lots of awards for the...

Recruitment Genius: Telephone Debt Negotiator

£13500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This nationwide enforcement com...

Guru Careers: Communications Exec / PR Exec

£25 - £30K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a highly-motivated and ambitious Comm...

Guru Careers: Pricing Analyst

£30 - 35k: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pricing Analyst to join a leading e-...

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral