One Man Vs The corporate He Based
Garnham, who lives in a two-bedroom council flat, recently suffered a bowel
condition that has induced him to lose considerable weight. His 72-yr-previous
wife works for minimum wage to assist them, as they are all but penniless.
He describes it as “a miserable existence”.
However Garnham believes that he should be a multimillionaire. Rightly or wrongly,
he’s angered, embittered. Even these close to him chuckle that his feeling of
injustice is “probably what retains him going”. Many a real word is
spoken in jest.
His is an extraordinary story that strikes at the very origins of one of many
most successful corporations on the alternative Funding Market (Goal), the
junior stock change.
The story focuses on a spread of places, from the exotic to the mundane,
from Cameroon and Cyprus to Dumbarton and Tring. Prime ministers, current
and former, have been drawn into what boils right down to a dispute involving just
a handful of seemingly obscure gentlemen.
Even more surprising is that the dispute surrounds an oil and gasoline producer,
Bowleven, which, though price £56m as of final Thursday, has not as but offered
even a drop of crude.
The loose cannon
Garnham was one in all the unique founders of EurOil, an organization integrated in
1996 that’s in the present day the principle subsidiary of Bowleven. By the top of 1997, two
alleged errors meant that Garnham was stripped of his directorship and his
19 per cent shareholding in EurOil. This stake would most likely have earned
him a number of million pounds when Bowleven listed in December 2004. For almost
12 years, Garnham has been fighting to get again that stake, hiring lawyers,
a forensic accountant and even a PR specialist people prepared to work for
To Bowleven, there is no such thing as a substance to Garnham’s claims. Even if there have been,
the argument comes to nought: the declare is from long enough ago to be time
barred. Bowleven can also be identified to crude oil futures price news own authorized opinions that suggest any
claim would, at the moment, account for less than 5 per cent of the company, which means
it does not must be introduced to the inventory change.
And the company did acknowledge and element the dispute in its Goal admission
document five years ago.
Nevertheless, Garnham’s increasingly erratic actions may very well be of curiosity to
Bowleven shareholders. Earlier this year, the company was in talks with an
unnamed bidder to be offered for £130m, a giant premium on shares that had
tumbled as commodity prices sunk. The talks terminated in April, but only
after Noble Vitality was recognized by the press as a probably bidder. And only
after Garnham had fired off an electronic mail to Charles Davidson, Noble’s chief
The email described Garnham’s long relationship with senior figures within the
Cameroon authorities to whom he had promoted British exports, from designer
shirts to spare elements for tractors. He claims that this work helped lead to
the West African nation becoming a member of the Commonwealth in 1995.
It also detailed a complaint, naming Bowleven, that Garnham had filed in
Douala High Courtroom in Cameroon. That case was thrown out in 2007, when
Garnham’s lawyer failed to show up. It is still not sure that Noble was
the interested purchaser, and even if it have been, Garnham’s fairly unstructured
rant may look little more than the work of a crackpot. Nonetheless, Garnham’s
erratic actions would absolutely put in danger any future negotiations.
Even Caroline Crawford, Garnham’s solicitor, admits: “Peter is a unfastened
cannon, but solely on account of his absolute perception that he has been wronged.”
And what can now be revealed is that at least one in every of EurOil’s founders, John
Kennedy, a man who went on to develop into a Bowleven director and whose wife held
19 per cent of EurOil’s shares, believes that Garnham deserves compensation.
Others fervently disagree, though it’s also known that the board discussed
compensation as not too long ago as December 2005. However, Terence Heneaghan, the
then chairman, and fellow directors are understood to have ruled out the
transfer, arguing that the company owed Garnham nothing.
This is sort of some dispute, and one during which each facet believes that it’s
a hundred per cent in the right.
Paphos results in bathos
Bowleven buyers passed a resolution on Friday that will see the corporate
elevate $114m to be used to appraise a current oil discovery in Cameroon. By
2011, Bowleven may at lengthy last be within the business that EurOil was founded
for 15 years beforehand: producing oil.
It was late 1995 and Garnham contacted Chief Ephraim Inoni, now the Cameroon
Prime Minister, to congratulate him on the country becoming a member of the Commonwealth.
There was a second motive for the call: Garnham needed to know the possibilities
of successful an oil concession basically offshore websites for exploration
and drilling in the Gulf of Guinea if he formed an indigenous company. The
World Bank had called on Cameroon to develop its oil assets and the then
60-year-previous spied a money-making alternative. Inoni responded that it was a
A remarkably disparate group of characters then went about creating an organization
to benefit from Cameroon’s oil wealth. In 1976, Garnham had obtained
chatting to a Cameroon lawyer by the title of Chief Tabetando at a bar in
Tring, Hertfordshire. Primarily they grew to become enterprise partners, and
Tabetando would arrange Euro-Cam-ba Oil, the predecessor to EurOil, in
A couple of year earlier, the Garnhams had met a Scottish doctor and his wife
whereas holidaying in Paphos, west Cyprus. They struck up a friendship and
Garnham went to go to the couple in their residence in Dumbarton. The doctor
launched Garnham to John Kennedy, a former bricklayer who had develop into
one thing of an entrepreneur.
Kennedy primarily put groups of people together to develop projects, and
worked out of the places of work of Glasgow architect Cobban margin:4px;”>Your advertisements can be inserted right here by
EurOil was suggested to find a chairman who was recognised internationally for
work within the oil sector. This was to be Terry Heneaghan, one other old
acquaintance of Kennedy’s, who was chief government at listed oil exploration
and manufacturing company Pittencrieff Resources. Heneaghan left Pittencrieff
in June, and soon after started as a consultant to EurOil earlier than changing into
chairman in 1998.
Garnham says that from the March meeting onwards, he was provided with restricted
information on the company as he was no longer a director. For example, he
claims to have been unaware of Heneaghan’s involvement in 1997. He also
recalls being advised off by a few of the other most important characters for “talking
too much” about EurOil’s plans and prospects.
The cash name
At 8pm on a Friday night in November 1997, Garnham received a fax giving
Cantrust 14 days to pay for a portion of his shares. Underneath the company’s
articles of affiliation, directors crude oil futures price news might ask shareholders to pay for as much as a
quarter of their share holdings within two weeks.
Cantrust and the opposite four primary shareholders would have to pay £24,325 each,
while Brewster wanted to search out £6,400. Strapped for cash, Garnham could not
pay for Cantrust’s shares. Nevertheless, he believed and nonetheless believes that
these shares were already absolutely paid up. Indeed, he has in his possession a
collection of share certificates that state these shares have been fully paid up.
Garnham says that they were basically granted to him as paid up in
change for his work at EurOil.
The issue for Garnham is that the company’s authorized firm, McClure Naismith,
discovered that a sequence of totally paid up shares had been, actually, issued
incorrectly. Brewster thought his shares had been also absolutely paid up and he even
challenged the money name earlier than forking out the £6,four hundred. Share certificates
belonging to others, resembling Lironi and Kennedy’s wife, have been additionally recognised
as being nil paid up even in the event that they said in any other case.
A spokesman for Bowleven says: “The error [of shares being issued
incorrectly] was established by McClure Naismith between June 1997 and
November 1997, and formally corrected. The correction process is noted in
Board Minutes dated 4 November 1997. McClure Naismith offered recommendation and
assistance to the Board of EurOil on the process and liaised with native
Cameroon solicitors to test that every thing was right underneath Cameroonian
legislation. The company has obtained quite a few opinions since then which have
confirmed that to be the case.”
The other directors and shareholders “capitalised mortgage notes” to pay
off their parts of the cash call. In essence, this meant that the other
shareholders did not have to stump up any cash. The bills they’d
incurred were thought-about loans to the company and were recompensed out of
share capital, overlaying the money name. For example, Vandergrift had spent
£37,899 in “directors and consultants expenses” as well as
£62,500 in “technical expenses”.
Garnham/Cantrust’s failure to pay up meant his 19 per cent shareholding was
deemed forfeit. The Bowleven spokesman says: “Whether there was any
indebtedness resulting from Peter Garnham, who was no longer a director, is
irrelevant; there was no indebtedness resulting from Cantrust and so they were the
registered shareholder. Presumably, Mr Garnham may have assigned his
interest in any monies resulting from him at the moment to Cantrust and thus paid up
the shares that approach. However he did not accomplish that and Cantrust’s shareholding was
Heneaghan provides: “The company did everything in response to legislation and Garnham
had each probability to stump up for his shares.”
In minutes dated 4 December 1997, the board did award Cantrust choices on eighty five
shares that could possibly be purchased at £1,000 a pop at any time over the following five
years, “in recognition of Cantrust’s contribution to the company”.
The Bowleven spokesman says that the award was made “on the basis of
representations by Chief Tabetando on behalf of Mr Garnham and in
recognition of his long standing personal friendship with Mr Garnham”.
In accepting the options, the EurOil directors believed that the state of affairs
was resolved. Charles Malet de Carteret, the Cantrust trustee, wrote to the
board on four December acknowledging that the options have been “granted in
substitution for the nil paid firm shares which have been forfeited”.
Nonetheless, that very same day, Garnham despatched a letter of his personal stating the options
have been accepted “under protest”. Garnham says: “I was
confronted by a scenario where I needed to make a quick decision. I asked my
solicitor what to do and he said ‘You haven’t got any money, settle for the
choices, if solely to remain in the game’.”
Yet one more dispute emerged, this time over bills owed, with Garnham
claiming £27,549.62. He later received about £5,000.
In 1999, Garnham was declared bankrupt on account of unrelated work in
Cameroon, two months after the investors had exchanged their EurOil stakes
for Bowleven shares. The brand new company’s name got here from the Bow River, which
runs by means of Calgary, and the River Leven, which runs close to Kennedy’s
dwelling in Dumbarton.
A yr later, Garnham was stripped of his share choices. He had hired a
forensic accountant, John Papi, to look into his claims. At a board meeting
on 13 November, minutes show it was resolved that Cantrust would have the
choices cancelled from 5pm two days later unless there was “written
confirmation that they [Cantrust] accept that the forfeiture of their EurOil
shareholding (190 nil paid shares) was done properly and in accordance with
the articles of EurOil”.
Tabetando didn’t agree to the cancellation of the petroleum equipment suppliers choices. In a note to the
board, Tabetando mentioned: “I have a powerful ethical obligation to object to
the cancellation of the Certificate of Share Choices.”
A Bowleven spokesman points out that Garnham didn’t problem the
cancellation. Garnham says that by this stage, he was only considering
recovering the original shareholding.
Since then, Garnham has remained vocal, taking, and failing in, a court docket action
In an extra blow, Papi issued a deposition to the court docket backing the board’s
model of events. Papi says: “I really feel extraordinarily sorry for Peter. He’s
worked laborious pursuing the case, however it’s on the unsuitable premise. It’s a
Cantrust matter, not a Peter Garnham concern.”
Garnham counters that he’s the consultant of Cantrust. It is usually true
that he’s authorised by the trustees to act on this matter.
His British solicitors contacted Bowleven for information in 2003, by and
giant getting short shrift. Simply final month, his public relations man wrote
to Joe Clark, a former Canadian prime minister who’s now a Commonwealth
special envoy to Cameroon, asking if “he would possibly be capable of help”.
Most of the primary characters have left Bowleven, even if they retain a
stakeholding. Kennedy, for instance, resigned after falling out with other
members of the board, whereas Heneaghan left in December 2006. Heneaghan was
involved in an enormous bust-up with Philip Rhind, a South African who was
chief government from 2004 to 2006. Rhind was dismissed for alleged gross
misconduct. Shortly after his dismissal, he claimed to have a “red
button” dossier which he handed to the Bowleven board. Greater than 50
pages lengthy, the dossier is believed to have referred to the Garnham-Cantrust
scenario. Bowleven and Rhind ultimately settled out of court.
At this time
Tabetando is the chairman of EurOil, which is listed as a a hundred per cent owned
subsidiary of Bowleven. A senior tribal leader, Tabetando’s phrases carry
weight in Cameroon, and he’s patron of the Cameroon Affiliation of English
Talking Journalists. Lironi’s golf handicap has slipped to 5, whereas
Vandergrift, who declined to comment for this text, lives in Calgary.
Bowleven is basically in the hands of a very completely different group of people. The
current chief executive, Kevin Hart, admitted earlier this 12 months that the
firm “was in want of resuscitation” when he took over in 2006.
Garnham continues to work on what he alleges was an unfair loss of his shares.
Kennedy, who remains in his beloved Dumbarton, now brazenly backs him: “Peter
deserves compensation for being deprived of his shares.”
The Bowleven spokesman says: “The  share name was validly made. The
level is that the shares weren’t paid up and that place was accepted at
the time by all of the shareholders, including Cantrust.”
But Garnham is decided to struggle on. crude oil futures price news He has more letters, emails and
allegations to fire off. Garnham continues to be around, ready to trigger trouble.