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Malabu Oil Deal: UK Group Alleges $523m Went To Ex-President Fronts |The Republican News

 Yusuf Alli, AbujaImage result for Dan Etete

A United Kingdom anti-corruption group, Global Witness, has alleged that about $523million of the $1.1billion paid by Shell and Eni for Malabu Oil Block (OPL 245) went to some fronts of a former President.

It said the deal deprived the country of a sum equivalent to 80% of its 2015 health budget in a country where more than 60% of the population live in poverty.

The group made the disclosures in a statement by its Director, Simon Taylor.

It also wrote a letter to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) not to waiver in its determination to probe the sale of the oil block.

But Global Witness said prosecutors in the UK have alleged that about $523million out of $1.1billion was paid to the fronts of a former President.

The statement said: “We applaud the Nigerian authorities for fighting back against corruption without fear or favour, making sure there are real consequences for taking part in shady deals like with OPL 245.”

“The lucrative OPL 245 oil block was allocated in 1998 for $20m – a fraction of its value now – to Malabu Oil & Gas, a company secretly owned by the then oil Minister, Etete.

“The OPL 245 block, off the coast of Nigeria is owned 50-50 by Shell and Eni and contains probable reserves of 9.23 billion barrels of oil, representing potentially massive bookable reserves for the companies.

“Shell currently holds 11.75 billion barrels of proven oil equivalent reserves and Eni holds 6.89 billion barrels of proven oil equivalent reserves.

“The block was eventually passed on to Shell and Eni in 2011 in exchange for a payment of $1.1bn which flowed to Malabu rather than to the Nigerian state.

“The former Minister of Justice, Adoke by his own account acted as a broker in the deal. This deal deprived the country of a sum equivalent to 80 per cent of its 2015 health budget in a country where more than 60 per cent of the population live in poverty.

”Shell and Eni have always denied that they knew the money they paid would go to Malabu, but documents seen by Global Witness show that the companies in fact constructed the deal knowing that the money would flow ultimately to Malabu.

“Prosecutors in the UK have previously alleged that $523m of Shell and Eni’s payment went to alleged “fronts for former President of Nigeria (names withheld) as part of a deal that was effectively a “smash and grab” on Nigeria.

In a separate letter, the group praised the Acting EFCC chairman, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, for the “sterling investigatory work” by the commission on the Malabu oil deal.

The letter said Global witness was “ delighted to read press reports that Adoke, Etete and others have been implicated  by the EFCC for fraud and money laundering in respect of the OPL 245 oil deal.

The letter added: “We would like to take this opportunity to reiterate our admiration for the sterling investigatory work by the EFCC, under your leadership, that has brought this case to court.

“We believe that the case will send a powerful message to the world that Nigeria is intent on prosecuting corruption without fear or favour.”

The anti-corruption group however noted the reactions of some key actors in the Settlement Agreement on the oil block.

It added: “In a statement, Mohammed Adoke said: “I hope to at the appropriate time make myself available to defend the charge for what whatever its worth,” he also emphasized that he did not benefit from the deal, which he said saved the government from a breach of contract suit in which Shell was claiming $2 billion.

“He called the charges “orchestrated plans to bring me to public disrepute in order to satisfy the whims and caprices of some powerful interests on revenge mission.”

“Shell has insisted that they did not pay Malabu directly and that all payments went to an escrow account held by the Government of Nigeria.

“In a response to a request for comment from Global Witness in April 2015, Shell said: ‘We do not agree with the premise behind various public statements made by Global Witness about Shell companies in relation to OPL 245.’ It has not responded to more recent requests to comment.

Eni responded to questions on the deal in May 2016 saying: “Independent enquiries and the investigations commissioned by Eni’s Watch Structure and Board of Statutory Auditors from specialized American law firms have found no evidence of illegal conduct on the part of the Company.”

Antonio Tricarico said: “The Italian Government must ask serious questions of the involvement of Senior Eni executives in a deal that has now lead to senior Nigerian officials being charged with criminal offences.”  (The Nation)

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Ex-Minister, Dan Etete, Others, Set For Trial In Italy |The Republican News

 Our Reporter

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Former Minister of Petroleum, Mr. Dan Etete

 

Former Minister of Petroleum Dan Etete is to be arraigned in Italy over his alleged involvement in the $1.1billion Malabu oil deal.

Last week, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) slammed  a seven-count charge of money laundering and fraud on Mr. Etete and others at the Federal High Court in Abuja.

The Italian prosecutors have filed the notice in a Milan court, accordin g to Premium Times.

Apart from Etete, another Nigerian, Chukwuemeka Obi, is among the 11 individuals to be charged by the Italian authorities. Shell and Eni are also to be sued to take the defendants to 13. Mr. Obi and his firm, EVP, had laid claim to about $110 million of the $1.1 billion paid by Shell and Eni for OPL 245, considered Nigeria’s richest oil block.

The money is trapped in Switzerland where it has been frozen by a court.

Mr. Obi sued Malabu for $110 million in London, which he said was his entitlement for helping to facilitate the deal between the oil majors and Malabu.

In July 2013, the High Court of Justice, Queen’s Bench Division, presided over by Lady Justice Gloster, ruled in favour of Mr. Obi that he was entitled to “a fee of 8.5% of the total disposal consideration of $1.3 billion”.

Following the court’s ruling, the money was transferred to EVP’s Swiss accounts. However, Italian authorities who had by then started investigating the fraudulent deal asked Swiss authorities to freeze the money where it has since remained.

Others found culpable by Italian authorities include: DescaJzi Claudio, the CEO of Eni; his predecessor, Paolo Scaroni; Roberto Casula, Armanna Vincenzo, Antonio Pagano, Ednan Agaev, Luigi Bisignani and Falcioni Gianfranco.

Italian prosecutors are also charging Eni and Royal Dutch Shell for their involvement in the deal as multinational firms.

As part of their findings, Italian prosecutors said officials of Italian oil giant Eni may have received $50 million bribe from the $1.1 billion the company and Shell paid into a Nigerian government account in 2011. (The Nation)

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