I am happy to congratulate flip flop Ben Turney. Of course he remains a clown capable of bollocksing up much in life but yesterday he claimed notable scalps as three disgraced, discredited and utterly shite directors of New World Oil & Gas (NEW) walked the plank with immediate effect and that is down to Flip Flop.
Is there a better example of why AIM is in such desperate need of reform than New World Oil & Gas (NEW)? This is a company that has habitually lied to and misled its shareholders, paid its rapacious board of directors inordinate sums, delivered next to nothing for over two years and, lest we forget, foolishly gave €1million to a fake sheikh, in the bizarre hope of breaking into the Kuwaiti oil market. You couldn’t make this stuff up, so it almost defies belief that the company has been able to raise £1.5million this morning.
In the RNS announcing its AGM, New World Oil & Gas (NEW) forgot to mention it had posted on its website the notice of the AGM together with the proposed resolution for shareholders to vote on. The proposed resolutions and voting papers can be found here and, as is ever the case with New World, there are some extremely interesting omissions. First, despite having committed to it in the annual report, new CEO Peter Sztyk is no longer retiring as a director and seeking re-election. Second, and possibly much more significantly, there is no proposed resolution concerning the Niel Petroleum deal. Considering that the Takeover Panel’s verdict was that New World requires shareholder approval to complete this deal, this leads to the obvious question; is the Niel deal off?
What is happening at New World Oil & Gas (NEW) is simply outrageous. This is fast becoming the perfect case study to demonstrate why AIM is in such desperate need of reform. Not content with the royal shafting it has already inflicted upon its shareholders, the wretched board of this wretched company has the nerve to claim its actions are being done in their interests. New non-executive chairman Chris Einchcomb must have had a good belly laugh when he said his fellow porcine directors are “committed to… maximising the value to shareholders and believes the actions taken above are important steps to achieving this”. Retaining Bill Kelleher on a consultancy contract so he can “repay” the loan he took out to participate in March 2013’ controversial placement is hardly the act of a board committed to maximising shareholder value. No, it’s more a case of the parasites bleeding every last drop from the now rotting carcass that has been such a generous meal to gorge upon. These people give leeches a good name.
Shame on Roland Cornish and Felicity Geidt of Beaumont Cornish, New World Oil & Gas’ (NEW) nominated advisor. Shame on Stephen Polakoff, Roland Hodder and Chris Einchcomb, New World’s non-executive directors, who comprise the company’s remuneration committee. Above all, shame on Peter Sztyk, Georges Sztyk and Bill Kelleher. Shame on all of you, shame on your wilful lack of disclosure, shame on your disregard for New World’s shareholders and shame on your greed.
If you thought that sending €1million to a man you hadn’t completed due diligence on, in the hope of receiving $20million, was the height of stupidity, you’d be wrong. Taking €1million out of an escrow account, set up expressly for a deal that has failed to close after more than a year’s worth of delays, to pay said amount to said man, in the hope of receiving $20million, is probably a good deal more stupid. Yet this is exactly what New World Oil & Gas’ (NEW) $1.75million a year board of directors did, at some point between the middle of May and end of June this year. Unless Niel Petroleum has taken leave of its senses and given, as a gift, this money to New World, this spells big trouble if Dr Alfahaid doesn’t soon make good on the $20million he was meant to have paid by August 8th.
Things go from dire to abysmal at New World Oil & Gas (NEW). With the after market release of New World’s interim figures last Tuesday, there are disturbing questions about the company’s financial position and the nature of its financial arrangement with Niel Petroleum. I plan to return to these tomorrow, but in the meantime there is a much more serious problem concerning the €1million payment made by New World to Dr Alfahaid of Al-Maraam Al Ahliya Trading & Contracting before June 30th this year. It appears, by its own admission, cash-strapped New World has paid what amounts to a €1milion deposit to an individual it had not completed due diligence on. Even by the calamitous standards of what passes for corporate decision making at New World, this action could prove to be the most inept. Here’s why.
According to New World Oil and Gas’ (NEW) AIM Rule 26 Disclosure “5.19% of the Company's securities are not in public hands”. This is all well and good, but for one small problem. The figure should read 9.03%. Based upon previously announced director holdings, it appears at least three directors have disposed of or transferred holdings equivalent to 3.84% of the company’s equity, including (but not necessarily limited to) Bill Kelleher, Peter Sztyk and Georges Sztyk. New World has not issued any RNSs declaring disposals, so what on earth is going on?
On Friday, I revealed the Texas Community Bank’s legal action against New World Oil & Gas (NEW) CEO Bill Kelleher for his apparent default on a $550,000 debt. This was immediately before New World listed on AIM. Mr Kelleher had secured his unpaid loan on his private yacht, Neftegaz. In the original action the Texas Community Bank sought to take possession of Neftegaz, but by January 14th 2014 it seems that Mr Kelleher still owed $298,846.25 of the original debt. On this date the US District Court Southern District of Texas granted an Order for Turnover Relief against Mr Kelleher. It ordered him to “turn over for levy to the Harris County Constable… within ten days… all shares of stock in New World Oil and Gas, PLC, except those that he is restricted from transferring or selling under the terms of the agreement with his employer, cash and securities in bank and safety deposit accounts totalling $298,846.25”. Funnily enough, I can’t find any reference to this court order in an RNS.
Shares in AIM listed New World Oil & Gas (NEW) were trading at 9.625p a year ago. Today they are at 1.85p. Shareholders have every reason to be unhappy with the board. But it gets worse. Much worse.