Soma Oil & Gas Exploration Ltd has been cleared of allegations made by the Serious Fraud Office of Britain of bribing Somali government officials.
Soma was cleared by the High Court in London on October 12 after explaining that the monies paid to the government officials were for salaries, transport and office equipment.
“The judgment reinforces the court’s respect for the independence of investigative authorities,” said the Serious Fraud Office.
On August 10, Soma applied for a judicial review of the Serious Fraud Office’s decision not to disclose its investigations. The court said there was insufficient evidence against Soma that would lead to a conviction.
The court said the allegations by the Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group (SEMG) accusing Soma’s executive director Hassan Khaire of having links with extremist groups such as Al Shabaab were investigated by the Serious Fraud Office.
“The Serious Fraud Office confirmed to the Court that it found no evidence of wrongdoing during its investigation into the allegations set out in the SEMG’s report and we are confident that any outstanding lines of inquiry will not result in any action against Soma,” said the company.
Soma, which was founded in early 2013 to explore crude oil in Somalia, will now concentrate on converting its notice of application into production sharing agreements to enable the company to explore offshore Somalia.
The company needs to finalise on production sharing agreements with the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources and agree on a revenue sharing agreement between federal member states and the Federal Government of Somalia among others.
“Soma has behaved properly at all times,” said Soma’s chief executive officer Richard Anderson. On December 9, 2015 Soma delivered exploration data to Somalia’s Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources as per the terms of a seismic option agreement.