Unsolved Murders

Ely Calil

Age: 72

Sex: male

Date: 7 May 2018

Place: Holland Park, London

Ely Calil was found dead at his home after apparently falling down the stairs in Holland Park, West London.

The police were called to his home at 8am on the Bank Holiday Monday 7 May 2018.

The cause of his death was described as unexplained although it was said to have not been suspicious. He was thought to have died from a broken neck.

However, it was thought that he might have been murdered because of his role in a failed coup in Equatorial Guinea that had left several powerful people in prison for some years or some other business deal that he had been involved in.

Ely Calil was a financier and oil baron and described as one or the richest men in Britain at the time. He was born in Nigeria but was of Lebanese heritage and held British citizenship and had been educated at Beaumont College and Oxford University and was said to have run an empire worth £100million and to have been worth £350million in 2010. He was said to have started off by running his family oil mill and groundnut business and to have then moved into property and finance.

He was noted for having socialised with many notable figures including Jeffrey Archer, Sir March, Lord Archer and Lord Mandelson. He had also been invited for dinner at 10 Downing Street with John Major, the then Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

For a while he had operated out of a £12million mansion in Chelsea and had had other properties in Switzerland and Nigeria.

However, he was most noted for being involved with a military coup to overthrow the president of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, and to replace him with exiled opposition leader Severo Moto in March 2004. The plot had involved a number of notable people, including Margaret Thatchers son, Mark Thatcher and Simon Mann, an ex-SAS soldier and mercenary. However, the plot failed after the aircraft that the mercenaries had been on was stopped in Zimbabwe whilst it waited for a consignment of weapons and the 67 mercenaries and three aircrew onboard were arrested.

Although Ely Calil initially denied any involvement in the coup at the time in 2004, he later admitted to funding a regime change in Equatorial Guinea in 2008 saying that he had supported 'democratic change' financed plans by supporting Severo Moto's plans to return to the country from exile in Span on the thinking that if he could remain in the country for a number of days, protected by Simon Mann and his 'security' service, that it would cause a political storm that would sweep the current regime away.

Ely Calil said in an interview with the Telegraph newspaper, 'I am not a coup planner. I don't have a talent in that sense. But yes, I financed Severo Moto's political activities and yes, I introduced Simon Mann to him because of his background in security'.

He also admitted that he knew that Simon Mann and his mercenaries had been hired to provide military assistance to Severo Moto but knew nothing of Simon Mann's plot to stage a coup.

Simon Mann and his mercenaries were stopped at Harare airport in Zimbabwe in a Boeing 727 aircraft that was loaded with weapons and they were arrested. Simon Mann and the mercenaries were all tried for a variety of offences and imprisoned

Simon Mann was convicted of attempting to buy arms for an alleged coup plot and sentenced to 4 years of which he served 3 years in Chikuribi maximum security prison in Harare, Zimbabwe after which he was sent to Equatorial Guinea where he was sentenced to 34 years. However, he was released after having served 2 years in 2009 on humanitarian grounds.

The coup attempt was known as the Wonga Coup, being named after the Wonga list of alleged financial supporters. The Wonga list was alleged to have included:

  • Ely Calil: $750k.
  • Simon Mann: $500k.
  • Karim Fallaha (Ely Calil's Lebbanese associate and director of Asian Trading and Investment in Beirut): $500k.
  • Greg Wales (London businessman): $500k.
  • Gary Hersham (London-based property dealer who ran the Mayfair estate agency Beauchamps): $500k.
  • David Tremain (South Africa-based British businessman who had been 'fronting' for a syndicate of investors): $500k.

It was noted that Jeffrey Archer, a close friend of Ely Calil had paid $80k into an account of a company owned by Simon Mann's a few days before the coup. Jeffrey Archer denied any involvement in the coup but did not say what the $80k was for.

It was said that Ely Calil had plotted the coup in return for cash and oil rights with Severo Moto having offered the group $1.8m and oil rights to carry it out.

The connection between Ely Calil and Lord Mandelson in the failed coup was made via a document held by the South African authorities a report on which stated that 'Calil says that Mandelson assured him he would get no problems from the British government side' and in which Lord Mandelson invited Ely Calil to see him again 'if you need something done'. It was said that they had met a couple of weeks after the failed coup. However, both Ely Calil and Lord Mandelson denied having discussed the coup.

Following the failed coup and the release of the Wonga list the Equatorial Guinea government attempted to sue Ely Calil in the British courts but the courts ruled that there was insufficient evidence.

It was said that Ely Calil had provided information to the South African authorities, betraying his fellow plotters, in order to stave off prosecution against him.

It was further noted that when Lord Mandelson was forced to sell his home in Notting Hill after he admitted receiving an undisclosed loan from Geoffrey Robinson, a fellow government Minister, Ely Calil offered to let him live in his flat in Holland Park.

Ely Calil had also been involved with other controversies.

In 2002 he had been arrested in France and investigated over alleged illegal payments relating to business dealings between a French company Elf Aquitaine and the Nigerian government. The  dealings were alleged to have involved the abuse of public property but Ely Calil was released without charge. It was said that he had received £40million in order to fix a contract between the two organisations.

In 2003 his 33-year-old son, who had been an actor in the television program Holby City was arrested after his girlfriend and co-star in the television show fell from a balcony at a flat in Holland Park and died. However, Ely Calil's son was later released without charge.

Ely Calil later sold his home in Chelsea for £10million and moved into a flat in Holland Park where he later died after what was described as a 'freak accident'.

Following Simon Mann's release from prison, he wrote a memoir of the events in which he named Ely Calil as a participant, however, at the time Ely Calil, who was described as 'an aggressive litigant' forced him to remove his name from the book.

Following Ely Calil's death, Simon Mann said, 'He was the person who recruited me and failed to back me as he promised. He can't sue me now. He was ultimately dishonest. He let me down. He promised many things and failed to deliver. Ultimately that led to the coup not working. He was an extraordinary guy. He was very charming, very clever but also devious and manipulative. There are a lot of stories about him'. Simon Mann was a former SAS officer. He had previously run Sandline International, a mercenary operation that operated mostly in Angola and Sierra Leone and had been involved in the suppression of a rebellion on the island of Bougainville.

Ely Calil was described as a private person and to have rarely spoke to the press, it being noted that at the time of his death the press had only one photo of him.

He had married three times and had had five children.

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