04 October 2014, Lagos – 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, reports Reuters.
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 armored 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,” Italian prosecutors told Reuters.
British prosecutors acting on the request have already frozen two accounts with combined sum of N29.5 billion ($190 million) allegedly 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 allegedly incorporated five days before the oil block was awarded to it in 1998 during the regime of late military dictator, Sani Abacha.
While trying to cover his link with the company, Etete registered the company with a fictitious director, Kweku Amafegha. The company also allegedly listed a fake address in the registration documents.
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 Etete’s conviction.
Despite overwhelming evidences showing that Shell and Eni were 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 Etete over expensive “lunch and lots of iced champagne” few months before the money was transferred to the Nigerian government.
An email presented during the trial also mentioned that the Shell official who feted with 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.
– This Day