Kinawley woman sues over oil millions
Published: 5 Jul 2012 13:00
Sheila McCaffrey, from Kinawley, was a director of INE (International Natural Energy), which found massive oil reserves off the Caribbean island of Belize in 2006.
The company was backed by scores of small investors from Ireland but has never paid them a dividend.
McCaffrey was a founder of INE but was removed from the board of directors. She has gone to the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court seeking an order to force the company to buy her shares.
A former fellow director, Tony Quinn, the yoga guru, health-food shop owner and hypnotherapist, has the most to win or lose from the proceedings. He was given 64,000 shares in the company in 2006 and stands to earn $23 million under an agreement reached with INE last August to buy them back. However, the judge, Justice Edward Bannister, has stopped the deal going ahead until the case brought by McCaffrey is dealt with.
Two of INE's Irish founders, McCaffrey and Susan Morrice, are at loggerheads over control of a company that has earned hundreds of millions of dollars in oil revenue over the past five years.
In her claim, McCaffrey alleges the company is being mismanaged, with money being diverted to the benefit of Morrice and Quinn. She says Quinn's shares were never validly allotted. The two deny her claims and say she was removed because she had become impossible to work with and was unsuited to running the business as it grew.
It was back in the mid-1990s that McCaffrey and Morrice met on the White House lawn at one of Bill Clinton's drives to promote investment in Northern Ireland. They joined forces with Paul Marriott, an English drilling contractor, and secured funding from investors who, like them, had attended Quinn's Educo Mind Power seminars. More than 300 people each invested at least 40,000 euro in the venture, many of them borrowing from friends, family and banks to do so.
For 50 years big oil companies prospected for oil in Belize with no success. Then INE's subsidiary. Belize Natural Energy, a minnow in the sector, came along and struck oil at the first attempt.
"It was unexpected in our business that the first well you drill in a country with 50 years of dry wells would produce a discovery so fast," Marriott said in court this week. Last year he sued the company and reached a settlement.
Most people would put such an oil find down to luck and science. But some of those who attended Quinn's 18,500 euro seminars believe one of the reasons they struck oil arose from the application of his techniques to focus the mind and remove doubts and negative thoughts.
The court has heard evidence about a series of fractious meetings between the directors in 2007 and 2008 at which efforts were made to resolve their growing differences.
McCaffrey sounds to have been the biggest loser, having received nothing for her shareholding. She was removed as a director and her home in Belize was searched by the police on foot of a company complaint. With limited resources, she struggled for a number of years to get her case into court. She described her evidence to court this week as "a snapshot of the living hell" she had endured over the past five years.
Whatever the outcome of the current case, it won't mark the end of the disputes. The case taken by another director, Jean Cornec, over 11.7 million euro he says he is due for his shares is scheduled to be heard in Denver, Colorado, next year.
Meanwhile, the disaffected shareholders are still hoping to have their day in court. Many of them are now under immense financial pressure and desperate for a payout.
Get more stories from our Roundup section
17 Apr 2014 18:06 • Rodney Edwards
A would-be politician seeking a seat in the new Fermanagh and Omagh Council for the Ulster Unionist Party has defended himself for a second time following comments he made on Facebook.
17 Apr 2014 17:01
Let me get the amateur sociology out of the way first: ‘Out-group homogeneity’. It describes a bias that any group of people are prone to have.
17 Apr 2014 16:30
The proposed Development Proposal to close both Enniskillen Collegiate School and Portora Royal School and open a new school on a split site, will go before the members of the Western Education and Library Board on May 8 for approval.
17 Apr 2014 15:57
THE Collegiate Grammar School’s consultation meeting on its proposed amalgamation with Portora Royal exposed the Western Education Library Board’s (WELB) “weak process and weak argument”, according to principal, Elizabeth Armstrong.
17 Apr 2014 15:14
PARENTS of Collegiate Grammar School have accused Western Education Library Board (WELB) officials of hiding their personal vested interest in a proposal that would see the school merge with Portora Royal next year.
17 Apr 2014 14:29 • Meadhbh Monahan
HOMEOWNERS in Enniskillen are “disgusted” with workmen who took hundreds of pounds for cleaning their driveways, but never finished the job.
17 Apr 2014 14:06
WORK on the long-awaited Southern by-pass of Enniskillen could start in four years’ time but only if the millions needed for the scheme can be found, Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy has said.
17 Apr 2014 13:11
Fermanagh District Council is unlikely to hold a fracking referendum after legal advice has recommended against it.
17 Apr 2014 13:01
A 47-year-old woman has been convicted of sexually assaulting a young man after she allegedly “forced” herself on him, grabbing him by the bum and telling him she loved him.
17 Apr 2014 11:45
A 42-year-old driver who failed to stop after crashing into a car on a bridge on St. Patrick’s Day was three times the legal alcohol limit.
17 Apr 2014 10:00 • Editorial Department
Clerics attend Queen’s banquet: Praise for their cross-community work
17 Apr 2014 09:48
Fermanagh Premier Milk Cup manager Derek Sharpe has named his 18 man squad for this summer's competition.
17 Apr 2014 09:15
THE two men arrested in connection with a security alert in Fintona on Tuesday this week have been charged with Theft and Going Equipped for Theft
17 Apr 2014 09:00
A local pupil has been named a finalist in this year's Fine Dine at Mine All-Ireland Schools Cookery Competion.
16 Apr 2014 22:30 • Editorial Department
How a woman has been convicted of sexually assaulting a man after touching him and trying to give him a love bite.
16 Apr 2014 19:30
A warrant has been issued for the arrest of a 33-year-old convicted shoplifter.
16 Apr 2014 17:00
The 32-year-old driver of a car from which there was a strong smell of cannabis has admitted unlawfully having the Class B drug.
16 Apr 2014 15:00 • Editorial Department
Our wee county of Fermanagh has a great deal going for it right now.
16 Apr 2014 12:20
A man was reportedly assaulted during a confrontation between a motorist and a group of cyclists on the Sligo Road in Enniskillen.