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
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
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: Compliance Assistant

£13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established ...

Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive

£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive...

Recruitment Genius: Technical Report Writer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Technical Report Writer is re...

MBDA UK Ltd: Indirect Procurement Category Manager

Competitive salary & benefits!: MBDA UK Ltd: MBDA UK LTD Indirect Procurement...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness