Executive of oil company chaired by Michael Howard investigated by UN over 'possible links' to al-Shabaab

Leaked letter reveals Soma Oil and Gas is the subject of an inquiry into alleged bribery of Somalian government officials

An executive of an oil company chaired by former Conservative leader Michael Howard is being investigated by the UN over “possible links” to the Islamist group al-Shabaab.

A leaked letter, from the UN’s Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group to Norwegian diplomats, reveals Soma Oil and Gas is the subject of an inquiry into alleged bribery of Somalian government officials. The UK’s Serious Fraud Office said last July that it was investigating Soma over allegations of corruption in the country.

But Christophe Trajbet, the monitoring group’s coordinator, writes that the London-based firm’s East Africa director, Hassan Khaire, may have connections with extremists – a claim denied by the company. The letter, published by news website BuzzFeed, also seeks details of the Norwegian’s tax records, bank accounts and credit cards.

Soma said: “Mr Khaire does not have any links with East African extremist groups including al-Shabaab. He has no link or affiliation to any known terrorist organisation or member of a terrorist organisation. [Such] suggestions are highly damaging and defamatory.”

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