A Review of the Nigerian Energy Industry

EFCC grants ex-minister Etete bail over $1.1bn Malabu fraud

Dan Etete
Dan Etete

28 June 2015, Abuja – For the second time in a week, the Economic and Financial Crime Commission has placed a former Minister of Petroleum, Dan Etete who is being investigated for a curious huge transfer made to Switzerland in relation to the dubious $1.1 billion Malabu Oil deal, on an administrative bail.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Friday moved against Mr. Etete over the transfer of $1.1 billion made to his phoney company, Malabu Oil and Gas, for the sale of OPL 245 to Italian oil giant, Eni and Royal Dutch Shell by the Goodluck Jonathan administration.

Last Saturday, PREMIUM TIMES exclusively reported that the anti-graft commission invited Mr. Etete for questioning after Swiss authorities seized a recent transfer linked to the $1.1 billion.

Last Friday Mr Etete was extensively grilled on the curious transfer to Switzerland and the $1.1 billion payment made to Malabu but was asked to return on Monday for further questioning after he requested time to gather necessary documents in respect of the payment.

A source close to Mr. Etete said he did not return to the EFCC on Monday as expected. He however showed up Wednesday, but after EFCC operatives questioned him for hours, he was again allowed to get more documents about the transfer.

“He came with some documents but as the questioning proceeded he asked to be allowed to locate more documents about the transfer. He was subsequently given an administrative bail and asked to reappear sometime next week,” the source said.

Though the EFCC has been investigating Mr. Etete for several years in relation to the Malabu deal, the investigation was in limbo during the Goodluck Jonathan administration, which in the first place offered a federal government account as conduit for the illicit transfer from oil giants Eni and Royal Dutch Shell for the sale of OPL 245.

The Jonathan administration failed to approve or support an investigation even when the scandal triggered by the payment sparked a probe by the House of Representatives, and led to criminal cases in Italian and British courts.

That administration, in fact, actively participated in the dubious transfer of the $1.1 billion when former Attorney General, Mohammed Adoke and former Minister of State for Finance, Yerima Ngama, offered the government’s platform to Malabu as a conduit for the round-tripping.

PREMIUM TIMES investigation at the time revealed that Mr. Adoke, on August 16, 2011, hurriedly and furtively authorised the transfer of the money to Malabu, which has a fake address, from a Nigerian government account with JP Morgan International Bank, a day before the resumption of the former minister of finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

Malabu subsequently transferred the money to other phony companies with falsified addresses in what the EFCC described at the time as a “cloudy scene associated with fraudulent dealings”.

The renewed investigation has rekindled hope that Mr. Etete, who was convicted for money laundering in France in 2005, and prominent members of the Jonathan administration like former Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke and former Minister of State for Finance, Yerima Ngama who approved the transfer, will be made to account for their roles in the scandal.
*Nicholas Ibekwe – Premium Times

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