THE proposed merger of multi-trillion interests in three gas blocks offshore Mtwara Region has taken a new turn following a move by Tanzanian businessman Moto Mabanga to seek High Court’s intervention in order to halt processes of the transaction.
Recently, the Fair Competition Commission (FCC) announced the proposed merger of the said interests in gas Block 1, Block 2 and Block 4 between Medco Energi Global PTE Limited, based in Singapore, as an Acquiring Firm and London based Ophir Energy PLC, as the Target Firm.
In a dramatic turn of events, however, Mr Mabanga, who also claims to have some interests in the gas blocks, has decided to take the matter to the Commercial Court’s Division in Dar es Salaam, through his Advocate Gabriel Mnyele, seeking a number of reliefs against the two foreign companies.
He requests the court to declare that the acquisition of 20 per cent remaining interests of Orphir in the gas blocks is null and void for being tainted by illegalities, fraud, conspiracies to defraud him and pervert ends of justice by denying his ultimate fruits of decree that shall emanate from pending proceedings.
The businessman also seeks for permanent injunction restraining Medco Energi Global PTE Limited to pay the sum agreed in the said acquisition deals unless and until the two companies jointly and severally settle his claims.
He is also requesting the court to prohibit Ophir Company from releasing control and, or ownership of the said 20 per cent ownership of the gas blocks until when his claims are settled in full as per orders or decrees that may emanate from pending and any litigation to be commenced.
It is stated in the plaint of the suit that sometimes in 2006, Mr Mabanga acting as a consultant of Ophir and its allies managed to secure for the company the ownership of Bloc 1, 3 and 4 of gas blocks offshore Mtwara coast for the consideration of 15 per cent interests in and over the said blocks.
The plaint states that in 2010, Ophir in conspiracy with BG Group of Companies forcefully and fraudulently ejected the businessman from the ownership of the said blocks after forcing him to terminate the said consultancy agreements and paying him a nominal amount of money.
Subsequent thereto, it is alleged that Ophir proceeded to sell 60 per cent of interests top BG Group at an undisclosed consideration and the said BG Group of companies sold the said interest to Royal Dutch Shell through a global acquisition of BG assets, while Ophir sold 20 per cent interest to Pavilion Energy.
Mabanga claims in the plaint of the suit that from the documented evidence, the value of the blocks in March 2010 was 6,440,000,000 US dollars (about 15tril/-) based on the fact that 20 per cent interest to Pavilion was sold At the gargantuan sum of 1,288,000,000 US dollars (about 3tril/-).
He claims that Ophir by paying him 7,500,000 US dollars (about 15bn/-) for his 15 per cent interest grossly under paid him. The businessman states in the plaint of the suit that the actual amount that was to be payable to him stood at 322,000,000 US dollars (over 700bn/-).
It is stated further that sometimes in December 2013, the businessman filed a suit before the court, protesting the termination and claiming compensation for the underpaid amount and, or return of his interest.
The said suit was dismissed on technical grounds on February 12, 2018. “The claim is now subjudice, (or) pending in the Court of Appeal by virtue of notice of appeal dated February 15, 2018.
The plaintiff (Mabanga) has already obtained the leave to appeal,” reads part of the plaint of the suit.