28 December 2016, Sweetcrude, Lagos — Former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Dan Etete, Shell and Eni and 10 others are set for trial in Italy for their involvement in the $1.1 billion Malabu oil deal.
Italian prosecutors are reported to have filed the notice in a Milan court last week.
Beside Mr. Etete, another Nigerian identified as Chukwuemeka Obi, is also among the 11 individuals to be charged by the Italian authorities while Shell and Eni are also to be sued, totalling 13 defendants.
According to findings, 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 one of Nigeria’s richest oil block.
The money is currently trapped in Switzerland where it has been frozen by a court.
Mr. Obi sued Malabu for the $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 Descalzi 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 a $50 million bribe from the $1.1 billion the company and Shell paid into a Nigerian government account in 2011.
The money was to allow the oil firms have control of OPL 245, Nigeria’s richest oil block estimated to contain over 9 billion barrels of crude oil.
The Italian prosecutors have now concluded their investigations into the roles of Shell and ENI in the OPL 245 controversy and are set to commence prosecution.
The investigators said €50 million cash was delivered to the Abuja home of Mr. Casula, who was then the head of Eni’s business operations in sub-Saharan Africa. The money was supposedly meant for “administrators and Eni executives.”
The investigations also revealed that contrary to claims by Shell and Eni, officials of the Italian firm negotiated with Mr. Etete and definitely knew the money they were paying to the Nigerian government would end up in Malabu’s accounts controlled by him.
The commencement of prosecution of Italians and multinational firms involved in the shady deals occurred a few days after Nigeria’s anti-graft agency, EFCC, commenced the prosecution of Mr. Etete and other Nigerians, including former Attorney-General Bello Adoke, and local firms suspected in the scandal.