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Fired Lekoil boss tells board he plans to stick around

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The boss of a London-listed oil firm who was sacked after failing to repay a seven-figure loan has said he has no plans to relinquish control in a bizarre boardroom spat.

Lekoil chief executive Olalekan (Lekan) Akinyanmi, who founded the company, was told by its board on Thursday to pack his bags.

He has repeatedly missed deadlines to pay back 1.5 million dollars (£1.1 million) he borrowed from the firm in 2014.

But on Friday he refused to accept the board’s decision, saying he is still in control of the firm’s Nigerian arm.

The statement confirming his sacking was released by London-listed Lekoil Limited, which is incorporated in the Cayman Islands.

A second, separate statement from Lekoil Nigeria – of which the Cayman division controls 40% – said Mr Akinyanmi is still in charge in the country and disputed his removal as boss of Lekoil Cayman.

The company is no stranger to controversy, having fallen victim to a scam in 2019 in which a conman claimed to be able to secure investment for the firm from Qatar.

It led to Lekoil paying 600,000 dollars (£424,000) in fees to help secure the investment, which never materialised. It reportedly narrowly escaped handing over up to 10 million dollars (£7 million) before discovering the fraud.

On the current crisis at the firm, Lekoil Nigeria said in a message released to the London Stock Exchange: “Mr Akinyanmi remains on the board of Lekoil Nigeria Limited and also its chief executive officer.”

Lekoil Nigeria owns the company’s Nigerian oil assets off the coast of Lagos.

According to documents that Lekoil filed in 2013 when it listed in London, Lekoil Cayman does not own a majority voting stake in Lekoil Nigeria – needed to oust Mr Akinyanmi.

Lekoil Nigeria said the procedure that led to the termination of Mr Akinyanmi’s employment “is not compliant with the company’s corporate governance policies”.

“Together with the appointment of unvetted new appointments to the board of Lekoil Cayman by the Metallon Corporation consortium, it is clear that the majority of the board of Lekoil Cayman is failing persistently to comply with its corporate governance code, yet the board of Lekoil Cayman determines on this ground to terminate the service of Mr Akinyanmi,” the statement from Lekoil Nigeria said.

It added: “While we take legal counsel regarding this decision by Lekoil Cayman, we wish to assure our numerous stakeholders, especially the Nigerian people, that the strategic national assets under our purview will be protected by all legitimate means available to us.”

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