Oil firm Soma commissions report into UN group after accusations spark probe

SOMALIA-based oil and gas exploration firm Soma, which is under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), has commissioned a report into the United Nations monitoring group which sparked the probe.

Following a leaked UN report into allegations of corrupt payments in Somalia, the firm, chaired by former Conservative leader Michael Howard, was placed under investigation by the SFO. The report detailed payments of hundreds of thousands of dollars to senior civil servants in Somalia and described them as “improper, unlawful and [giving] rise to a conflict of interest”.

In response, Lord Howard wrote to the UN last week, accusing the monitoring group of “fundamentally misunderstanding the nature, purpose and destination of payments” called “capacity building arrangements”.

Howard argued that such arrangements needed to be assessed on a case-by-case basis and that payments to governments were common practice to provide funds for training and recruitment in countries which lacked necessary infrastructure and skills.

Soma, which said it was “confident that there is no basis to the allegation”, said it is cooperating fully with the UN and will share with it the findings of its report.

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