A lawyer resident in Lagos has accused Donald Macpherson, a self-proclaimed investor and founder of Petronat Oil and Gas, of refusing to pay her salaries for 22 months.
The lawyer, who asked not to be named, said that Macpherson hired her in June 2020 and asked her to work from home until the end of the lockdown.
She said Petronat offered to pay her N750,000 monthly as a public relations executive. But almost two years after she signed a contract with the company, she’s yet to be paid a dime.
“They employed me on June 15, 2020,” “We signed a contract and sent it to the director of my department. They held an online induction ceremony for new staff and took our bank details. A lot of us left our jobs for this job. They told us they would send our salaries to our accounts at the end of the month.”
She said she expected payment the first month, but she never got it. The second month, the company told her something was impeding payment. In December 2020, Petronat promised to pay in 2021. Still, they did not pay her.
“And till now, I have not heard from them. Petronat Oil and Gas, owned by Donald Macpherson (CEO), a German national resident in the UK, and Chris Barry (chairman), should pay me my money,” she said.
“I wrote emails several times to find out what was going on, but it did not yield anything. Many Zoom calls, but nothing meaningful in the end. I wanted to inform the British High Commission, since Donald is a British citizen, about the issue. But after I said I would do this, I heard from them and they asked us not to do it.”
Other employees of Petronat also had similar experiences. Idara Sylvestre (not real name) said that Petronat deceived well-meaning Nigerians during the coronavirus lockdown in 2020 by making them work without pay.
She said the company told all employed staff to work remotely while they bought buildings pending the end of the lockdown period.
“But while we worked, they did not pay us. We worked in the hope they would pay, but they never did. And many of us left our previous jobs for this one,” she said.
Sylvestre said she knew Petronat was a scam when she took steps to collect her salary. According to her, the company started with insincere intentions.
“The address on their letterhead is non-existent. Their letterhead does not carry the names of the directors of the company as required by Nigerian law. This made me realise something was not right,” she said.
“They only sent emails saying they would pay within a certain time, but when the day came, they would not pay. It was recurring.”
FIJ mailed Donald Macpherson, but he had not responded to it at press time. Findings show that Petronat’s website is still active, while its founder’s LinkedIn profile appears to have been inactive for the four months.