The Nation reports that the Executive Vice Chairman of Aiteo Group, Mr Benedict Peters, has debunked an online report that he bought property and luxury furnishings in England for former Petroleum Resources minister Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke.
The report claimed it was in return for contracts from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
The company, in a statement, said the publication contains several false and malicious allegations against it and Peters.
It described the report as “an orchestrated largescale campaign of calumny which is sponsored and designed to tarnish our image”.
Aiteo Group comprises separate corporate entities whose asset base includes OML 29 upstream, and other assets downstream.
The firm said it has been in business for over 16 years, has been importing and exporting petroleum products, and was flourishing as a prosperous corporate entity long before Mrs. Alison-Madueke was appointed minister.
“In summary, all allegations of impropriety contained in the said publication are expressly and categorically denied.
“Mr Peters has not been charged with any criminal offence in Nigeria or any other jurisdiction with respect to any of the matters stated in the publication,” the firm said.
The company said its interactions with Mrs Alison-Madueke and petroleum ministers before her was like that of every major player in the oil and gas sector, including international oil companies (IOCs), and were in accordance with acceptable corporate practices.
“The case in the United Kingdom is a civil case. An application has already been made to discharge the restraint order which is a mirror order of, and largely relies for its authority on, interim forfeiture orders granted by a Nigerian Court with respect to the same properties.
“There is incontrovertible evidence in the form of provenance of funds utilised to acquire the property or properties concerned; legal documents of title and documentary proof of rights of ownership from purchase to date that completely confirm that the material purchases were transacted solely by our EVC and his companies; that he irrefutably owns the material property or properties,” the statement said.
According to the company, it was defamatory to suggest or infer that properties were bought for Mrs Alison-Madueke.
“The US proceedings which refer to United Kingdom properties does not substantiate any wrongdoing on our EVC’s part.
“He purchased furniture for one of his United Kingdom properties. This furniture was delivered to and placed in that property.
“The furniture was for his own use and not purchased for Mrs Alison-Madueke as stated in the publication; and is entirely consistent with his status, stature and financial compass as well as the value and location of the property for which the furniture was bought,” the firm said.
The company added that the allegations were designed to injure and damage their reputation; destroy the fabric of their commercial objectives and outlook; divert business away from them and create such opprobrium that their entire business is severely prejudiced and undermined.
“We note that the publishers did not seek any verification of the account set out in the publication from us prior to publishing same.
“Given the potential consequences of this publication, we are considering all options to protect the personal and professional integrity of our company and our Executive Vice Chairman,” Aiteo Group said.
Source: The Nation