LOSING MONEY AND LOSING A FRIEND: ABBAS EL YOUSSEF VS LOIK LE FLOCH PRIGENT
As the story has been hitting the headlines since Loïk Le Floch-Prigent's arrest on Saturday September 15th, UAE Billionaire Abbas El Youssef slowly loses control of his oil company Pilatus Energy and takes his old friend Loïk Le Floch-Prigent to court again .
United Arab Emirates billionaire Abbas El Youssef has reportedly lost control of his once-promising oil venture, Pilatus Energy. Insiders say the Switzerland-domiciled entity with oilfield stakes in West Africa is spinning out of control, with corporate finances in the red and infighting in the upper echelons of its management team.
Pilatus Energy is run by a rather ill-fitting trio: Abbas El Youssef; his son, Saeed El Youssef; and a new hire named Pablo Bauquier, a French lawyer who no one in the oil industry has ever heard of. But if there is one thing that is certain, it’s that Pilatus Energy is going to need a lawyer.
The crisis at Pilatus is attributable to several factors: the oil company’s botched deals in Africa (Pilatus has failed to produce oil for over eight years in Congo), sour relations between Pilatus and its former adviser, Loïk Le Floch-Prigent (who Abbas Yousef is suing in France, charging Loïk Le Floch-Prigent with defrauding him), a Nigerian scandal in which Abbas El Youssef lost around $50 million trying to make extra money but instead, wound up getting ripped off by an internationally known criminal (Bertin Agba), and not least of its worries, a legal battle filed against Pilatus in the U.S. for misrepresenting it self, its executive team, and the nature of its business.
The American lawsuit charges Pilatus with “acting in concert” with a hedge fund, Nanes Delorme, to try and obtain short-term profits off a quick sale of Vaalco.
The lawsuit itself sheds light on Pilatus Energy’s business strategy, or perhaps better phrased, the strategy of Abbas El Youssef. While the UAE billionaire, surely at the counsel of his inexperienced “legal adviser” Pablo Bauquier, is presently writing open letters making a plea for his lawsuit against Loïk Le Floch-Prigent, nowhere does Abbas Yousef admit that he got himself involved in a fraud scandal and lost millions simply because he was trying to make fast cash in what turned out to be a scam. No one likes to lose money, even billionaires. Out of money but still full of bitterness, Abbas El Youssef searched for months for the perfect culprit and, as he was left facing his own stupidity, he decided to let his anger go on Loïk Le Floch-Prigent who was arrested and will soon be prosecuted in front of the Togolese justice.
Oil and gas experts say Pilatus Energy is also sinking due to its insistence on remaining “secretive” and failing to provide investors, the public, and the West African nations in which it does business adequate information to monitor the company’s business decisions. One of the most telling signs that Pilatus Energy is engaged in likely illicit activities is simply its location. Zug, Switzerland, where Pilatus is registered, is infamous for housing a range of companies and generally referred to as a “corporate hideaway” for giant corporations thanks to its anonymity and light tax structure.
The canton of Zug is the smallest in Switzerland with around 115,000 people, but according to Time, its “commercial registry lists more than 29,000 companies—nearly one for every person in town—and more than 1,000 more companies arrive each year.”
The Youssef father and son team and Pablo Bauquier should be quite comfortable doing business in Zug, where tax-evading Glencore founder Marc Rich fled after he was indicted in the U.S., and where that other teeny tiny oil company Transocean is also domiciled. With corporate neighbors like these, it’s no wonder Pilatus Energy is plunging, face first into the oil-black sea.
Tags: Pilatus Energy , Abbas El Youssef , Saeed El Youssef , Loïc Le Floch Prigent , Floch-Prigent Arrest , Bertin Agba
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