Connect with us


Oh How The Mighty Have Fallen, Benedict Peters Debt Profile Grows To Astonishing $2.6 Billion



As far as life is concerned, businessman, Benedict Peters has seen the highs and lows.

There was a time when the Group Managing Director of Aiteo Exploration and Production Ltd was considered a fugitive of the state, as he was declared wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

He was allegedly involved in the $115m (N23bn) bribe given to officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission by a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, during the build-up to the 2015 election.

In his time of travail, Peters took refuge in neighboring African countries, doing his business far away from home.

Then, he somewhat resolved his issues with the EFCC. On March 22, 2018, a court declared that the EFCC lacked the power to declare anyone wanted, so Peter’s name was expunged from the anti graft agency’s wanted list.

Thus, Peters made a bold homecoming and became the poster boy of the oil sector sponsoring almost everything there was to be sponsored in Nigeria including the country’s local football league. Also, he threw his mother one of the most colourful birthday parties ever witnessed in the history of the country’s social circle.

All of that was when the going was good, as the biggest talking point about the  bearded man presently is his level of indebtedness to Shell Plc and seven Nigerian banks.

According to Financial Posts, a debt owed by Peters to the eight aforementioned companies in relation to a 2015 asset sale has shot up to about $2.6 billion, and the firms are now bent on recovering the loan facility extended to the oil firm.

In 2015, Aiteo Eastern E&P Co. purchased a pipeline and an operating interest onshore oil blocks for $2.4 billion.

To enable the purchase, Zenith Bank Plc, Fidelity Bank Plc, Guaranty Trust Bank Plc and other local lenders loaned the company $1.5 billion to support the acquisition, while Shell; the seller of the permit provided $504 million in funding.

The parties have been locked in a legal dispute since late 2019 when the creditors notified Aiteo that it was in default.

The lenders’ position is that Aiteo’s outstanding debt has climbed to about $2.6 billion once interest, fees and penalties are included, inside sources disclosed.

The figure stood at $1.7 billion at the end of 2021 and $910 million a year earlier, according to statements made by the creditors in court and arbitration filings.

These loans “represent significant credits on the books” of the exposed organizations, the Lagos-headquartered Africa Finance Corp., which administers the financial agreement between Aiteo and the banks, said in written evidence to an English court last year. “A default under the loans would be a very serious matter.”

In a court filing in 2019, Aiteo mentioned that it had already repaid a staggering amount of $1.2 billion and denied being in default, however, the company refused to publicly comment on the issue. Shell and the other lenders either declined to comment or didn’t respond to emailed questions.






Copyright © 2019, February13 Media