Petroceltic forced to deny blog claims


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The Independent Online

Petroceltic’s bitter row with its rebel shareholder Worldview deepened as the oil and gas explorer denied sensational fraud claims from an anonymous blogger over its trophy Ain Tsila project in Algeria.

Worldview, the hedge fund led by Angelo Moskov, owns 29 per cent of Petroceltic but has been a long-running critic of the company’s management. It wrote an open letter seeking “clarification for shareholders in respect of certain allegations which have recently appeared in the public domain relating to alleged fraud and corruption which may have taken place in the management of Petroceltic’s Algerian project”.

The claims were published on a blog called “Petroceltic: Exposure and Truth”, sending the shares down 9 per cent to 49p.

Petroceltic is taking the Irish unit of blog publisher Wordpress to court over the claims – which cannot be reported in detail – and is attempting to uncover the identity of the blogger. Petroceltic said: “On the basis of the investigation it has conducted to date, the company considers the allegations to be entirely baseless, untrue and defamatory.”

Last night the Irish High Court ruled the blog defamatory and ordered it to be deleted.

It is understood that one senior figure named by the blogger is still working  for the company – contrary to the claim.

“Once identified, he/she will be invited to demonstrate any bona fide evidence to support the allegations,” Petroceltic said. “If no such evidence is forthcoming, the company will take appropriate legal action against any party who has made or repeats such defamatory statement.”

Worldview has already called an extraordinary meeting for 7 September to oppose Petroceltic’s planned $175m (£111m) fundraising. Its letter added: “We are disappointed to again raise issues that, if substantiated, further evidence a culture of inappropriate and failed governance.”