06/07/2012

Fermanagh Woman In Caribbean Oil Legal Battle

A Northern Irish woman has gone to court in the Caribbean to get her share of oil money from a company she helped found.

Sheila McCaffrey from Kinawley, County Fermanagh, said she has been in "living hell" since a company she directed struck oil and struck her off.

She has not had a penny of profit from International Natural Energy, which found oil reserves off the coast of Belize, Central America, in 2006.

McCaffrey has now gone to the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court seeking an order to force the company to buy her shares.

Another former director, Tony Quinn, stands to earn $23m from the company but this has been blocked until McCaffrey’s case is dealt with.

McCaffrey alleges the company is being mismanaged, with money being diverted to Quinn and fellow Irish founder Susan Morrice.

But the two deny her claims, saying she was removed because she had become impossible to work with and was unsuited to running the business as it grew.

McCaffrey and Morrice met through one of Bill Clinton's drives to promote investment in Northern Ireland. They joined with Paul Marriott, an English drilling contractor, and more than 300 people each invested at least €40,000 in the venture.

It had a lucky rare find of oil in Belize but INE has been embroiled in legal battles.

Last year Marriott sued the company and reached a settlement, and another director, Jean Cornec, is bringing a case next year over €11.7m he believes he is owed for shares.

But McCaffrey has received nothing for her shareholding and struggled for years to get her case into court.

She said her evidence to court was just "a snapshot of the living hell" she went through over the past five years.

Judgment is expected by September.

(NE)

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