By Nicholas Ibekwe
More than half of the N171.32 billion ($1.1 billion) paid to Malabu
Oil and Gas for the procurement of one of Nigeria’s richest oil
fields, OPL 245 by Shell and Eni was used to bribe Nigerian
politicians and intermediaries who helped to secure the controversial
deal, Reuters reports.
According to a letter seeking the help of UK’s Crown Prosecution
Service (CPS) to freeze the assets of those involved, Italian
prosecutors said some of the N83 billion ($533 million) slush money
was used to buy private jets and armoured vehicles.
“We are investigating many money transfers to many people in various
countries who received sums that vary from millions of dollars to
thousands of dollars,” Reuters claimed the letter reads.
British prosecutors acting on the request have already frozen two
accounts with combined sum of N29.5 billion ($190 million) belonging
to the chief intermediary, Emeka Obi.
Former oil minister, who was convicted for money laundering in France,
Dan Etete, owns Malabu Oil and Gas. The company was incorporated five
days before the oil block was awarded to it in 1998 during the regime
of military dictator, Sani Abacha.
While trying to cover his link with the company, Mr. Etete registered
the company with a fictitious director, Kweku Amafegha. The company
also listed a fake address in registration documents.
Mr. Etete confessed to a British court in 2013 that former President,
Olusegun Obasanjo, demanded a slice of the oil block as bribe.
The Federal Government acted as a conduit for the fund after Shell and
Eni raised concerns over transferring the money directly to Malabu due
to Mr. Etete’s conviction.
PREMIUM TIMES investigation revealed that after the money was paid to
the Federal Government account, it transferred N120 billion ($801
million) to Malabu’s account.
The Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke, and Minister
of State for Finance, Yerima Ngama, authorized the transfers.
The company subsequently transferred the money to shady companies with
Despite overwhelming evidences showing that Shell and Eni are aware
that the money would be paid to a character with a shady background,
officials of the companies have denied any wrong doing in the affair.
For instance prosecutors said that a senior official of Shell had a
face-to-face meeting with Mr. Etete over expensive “lunch and lots of
iced champagne” few moths before the money was transferred to the
An email presented during the trial also mentioned that the Shell
official who feted with Mr Etete would refer to someone in The Hague
known as “Peter” over the terms of the deal. Curiously, Shell’s CEO is
named Peter Voser.
The Italian prosecutors are investigating the role of Eni’s former
CEO, Paola Scaroni and his successor Claudio Descalzi, for alleged
international corruption over the scandal.
By Nicholas Ibekwe