Father and son businesses are no stranger to success—except when the familial pair is heading a secretive Swiss oil and gas company, Pilatus Energy.
On the positive side of the scale, Investor , who has an estimated worth around $14 billion, gave $3 billion to a management team that included his son Brett. Donald and Eric Trump likewise share business interests in their family empire, The Trump Organization. And Ralph Roberts, chairman emeritus of Comcast, lived to see his son Brian serve as Comcast’s present chairman and CEO. But in the case of Pilatus Energy, the familial father-son management team is a recipe for mismanagement and financial disaster.
Rumor has it that billionaires Abbas Yousef and his son, Saeed Yousef, who head Pilatus Energy from their glass tower in the United Arab Emirates, have driven the company into financial ruin. A series of fatal management decisions made by Abbas and Saeed Yousef include getting ensnared in a Nigerian scam that cost them $60 million; allowing a convicted criminal, former Elf chief Loik Le Floch-Prigent, to negotiate their Congolese contracts and run their enterprise from behind the scenes (i.e. from jail); hiring an unqualified nobody to serve as their “business advisor”—enter Pablo Alexandre Bauquier—and most importantly, failing to produce oil in almost eight years.
In case it’s unclear, in order to stay in the black there’s one thing that an oil and gas company must do, and that is produce oil.
It’s hard to say exactly went wrong with Pilatus Energy, but even harder to say what went right. To begin with the faultfinding, Abbas Yousef and Saeed Yousef developed an African portfolio and established a Congolese subsidiary (Pilatus Congo), but because Pilatus was just a small Swiss group—a veritable unknown player when compared to the likes of Total and Shell—they had to rely on a middleman to help them negotiate with Congolese officials. That middleman was none other than Loik Le Floch-Prigent, serving a sentence on corruption convictions from his former position with Elf for charges of bribery, kickbacks, fraud, and other glorious practices not uncommon to the oil industry. (Le Floch-Prigent has admitted to many of the charges against him.) Who better to do business with, if that business is Françafrique and the strategic robbing of raw materials such as oil from Africa?
Abbas Yousef and Saeed Yousef, greed hungry to exploit the oil-rich Congo, lured in the criminally minded Le Floch-Prigent to do their dirty work for them. As reported by Africa Energy Intelligence on November 29, 2006, shortly after Pilatus was established, “In a mater of months, the small Swiss group Pilatus Energy has built up an African portfolio with the help of a few middlemen who can knock on presidential doors . . . In September, it was awarded the Ngoki concession in the Mossaka region thanks to the advice of former chief executive of Elf, Loik Le Floch-Prigent, who negotiated with Congolese officials on Pilatus’ behalf.”
It’s no surprise that Pilatus Energy hides its affiliation with Le Floch-Prigent. The company makes no mention of him in its Swiss business register, and only uses the former Elf CEO when it suits their needs.
Investors be warned: Yousef Abbas and Saeed Yousef are now searching for new investors who are interested in funding a new oil well in the Congo. If you’re a convicted felon, or a business advisor with no experience in the natural resources sector, you stand an excellent chance of obtaining a high-level position with Pilatus Energy.
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