Multi-million dollar ruling 'puts me back at centre stage'
Editorial Department • Published 19 Jul 2012 13:00
A Fermanagh woman has failed in a legal bid to force a company to buy her shares in a multi-million dollar oil business.
However, Sheila McCaffrey, from Kinawley, who said she "invested millions of dollars in bringing this trial to court", is calling on shareholders to support her "so that we can all realise a return on our investment".
McCaffrey was a founding member of INE (International Natural Energy), which discovered massive oil reserves off the Caribbean island of Belize in 2006.
However, within a couple of years she was ousted from the board by her fellow directors.
She went to the East Caribbean Supreme Court sitting in Tortoli in the British Virgin Islands seeking an order forcing the company to buy her shares.
It could have made her a very wealthy woman. Her former fellow director, Tony Quinn, struck a deal with the company to buy his 64,000 shares for $23 million.
However, that deal may now be in doubt following the court's ruling in the case.
The judge, Mr. Justice Edward Bannister, found there was a serious question over the allotment of shares to Quinn, a hypnotherapist, yoga guru and health food shop owner.
He dismissed a letter allegedly inviting Quinn to accept the shares as a "clumsy forgery" and an "after-the-event concoction written in an unsuccessful attempt to legitimise the allotment".
McCaffrey accused Quinn and INE's chairman, Susan Morrice, of siphoning off money from the company for their own use after removing her from the board of directors.
They denied her allegations, claiming she was suspended as a director because she was impossible to work with.
The judge dismissed McCaffrey's allegations that Quinn had advocated "sharp business practices" and scams, saying the claims were designed to blacken Quinn's reputation.
He refused her application for an order to force the company to buy her shares and to dissolve the company.
However, he granted a declaration that she was never validly suspended and Quinn was never validly appointed.
In a statement issued to The Impartial Reporter after the ruling, McCaffrey said: "Although I have stated throughout this litigation that it is my desire to exit from INE, the judgment puts me back at centre stage."
She said it appeared to charge her with the responsibility for regaining control of the company and protecting the interests of the Class B shareholders.
"This is exactly what I intend to do with immediate effect," she added.
"Justice Bannister has clearly recognised my contribution to the establishment of this company. With the support of the Class B members, I am prepared once again to use my ability and integrity to take on this challenge. I will approach it with the determination and dedication that I called on when we started exploration in 2002 and finding oil was only a dream, our dream," she stated.
"Therefore I invite the Class B members to build on Justice Bannister's comments and to make clear their support for an order that the company be wound up in the interests of all members, or to decide in a calm and collected manner what is the best forward plan for our company so that we can all realise a return on our investment. Either way, this will allow the proceeds of sale of the assets of the company to be shared among its rightful members," said McCaffrey.
This article appeared in Impartial Reporter 19 Jul 12