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Griffiths Energy eventually secured oil and gas leases in Chad. (Denny Thurston/iStockphoto)
Griffiths Energy eventually secured oil and gas leases in Chad. (Denny Thurston/iStockphoto)

oil and gas

The Canadian energy executive at the centre of the Griffiths corruption scandal Add to ...

Naeem Tyab has been on the global investment scene for decades, a self-styled international corporate executive. In that time, he carved out a niche in the energy sector, and in recent years devoted much of his efforts to building an oil company in Chad, a country known for its lucrative undeveloped properties.

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Now Mr. Tyab is a key figure in a landmark corruption scandal unfolding in Calgary.

Mr. Tyab co-founded Griffiths Energy International Inc. alongside his brother Parvez and the late Brad Griffiths, a high-profile Bay Street financier, according to an agreed statement of facts filed in court this week as Griffiths Energy pleaded guilty to corruption charges.

Naeem Tyab travelled to Chad where Griffiths Energy eventually secured oil and gas leases. He signed a so-called consulting agreement with Chad’s ambassador to Canada as part of the firm’s hunt for oil in Chad. When Griffiths’s lawyers spiked that idea, he signed an identical consulting agreement with a firm owned by the ambassador’s wife, according to the court document.

When that document expired, he signed the renewed consulting agreement with the same company, which translated into a $2-million (U.S). bribe, according to the court filing.

Griffiths Energy is a small private company but its adventures in Chad will set a major precedent for corruption cases in Canada. The company investigated itself after new management found inklings of trouble, and self-reported its findings to authorities in Canada and the United States. On Friday a judge will rule whether the $10.35-million settlement Griffiths Energy reached with the Crown is appropriate, thus setting a standard on how companies which come clean should be punished after committing serious crimes.

Mr. Tyab is not being prosecuted; his involvement with Griffiths Energy and officials from Chad is outlined in the 13-page agreed statement of facts the company and Crown presented in a Calgary court Tuesday. While prosecutor Robert Sigurdson is ready to settle with Griffiths Energy, he noted after court the investigation is ongoing.

“Naeem Tyab is an international corporate executive for more than two-and-a-half decades and also has, for the last while, concentrated on the energy sector,” according to naeemtyab.com. He founded Mogul Energy International Inc. in 2005 – a company which he, his brother, and Mr. Griffiths used to start exploring acquisition opportunities in Chad, according to the court documents. Mogul, a Delaware corporation with its main office in Seattle and branches in Houston, Vancouver, and Toronto, has a 100-per-cent working interest in a 3,763-hectare oil and gas lease in southeast Saskatchewan, a slice of the province where the energy industry is booming.

Mr. Tyab is also a major shareholder of United Hunter Oil & Gas Corp., another company with ties to the late Mr. Griffiths. Mr. Griffiths, known to struggle with alcohol, died in a boating accident in July, 2011. That summer Griffiths Energy brought in a new slate of professional oil and gas executives – the same people who later uncovered the company’s admitted wrongdoing.

Mr. Tyab has had past run-ins with the British Columbia Securities Commission. He was the principal shareholder of a now-defunct Burnaby-based investment company called Foresight Capital Corp., and, for a time, corporate secretary, according to commission documents.

Over a number of years beginning in 1997, the BCSC alleged Foresight was selling “riskier” products – exempt from disclosure requirements – and hadn’t rectified deficiencies in its compliance procedures.

Although the B.C. securities watchdog initiated actions against Mr. Tyab along with other players in the firm, most of the proceedings were discontinued, including those against Mr. Tyab. No explanation was given.

“We don’t make public the reason for discontinuances,” B.C. Securities Commission spokesman Richard Gilhooley said Wednesday.

Mr. Tyab could not be reached for comment. A person answering the phone at Mr. Tyab’s office in Bermuda hung up, and a call to a Mogul official wasn’t returned. Other attempts to reach Mr. Tyab were unsuccessful.

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