Lagos — The Nigerian government has accused international oil companies, Shell and Eni, of fraud, demanding the sum of $3.5 billion from them as damages.
In a report published by Premium Times from new claim contained in a London court filing by the Nigerian government against the two oil multinationals and other parties involved in the long-running case, the IOCs were accused of “fraud or/and bribery, dishonest assistance and unlawful means of conspiracy” in the ongoing $1.3 billion Malabu oil scandal.
The court documents obtained by Finance Uncovered saw the Nigerian government alleging that the Malabu deal was “corrupt” and not done in the interest of Nigeria.
British executive and then CEO of Arcadia Petroleum Ltd, Peter Bosworth, was recently accused of receiving money from former Nigerian oil minister, Dan Etete, in the ongoing case.
The Malabu scandal brought to the fore, transfer of about $1.1 billion by Shell and Eni, through the Nigerian government to accounts controlled by Mr. Etete to secure one of the richest oil blocks in Nigeria.
Investigations showed that about half of the money ($520 million) went to the accounts of companies jointly controlled by Abubakar Aliyu, popularly known in Nigeria as the owner of AA Oil and Mr. Etete. Anti-corruption investigators and activists suspect Mr. Aliyu fronted for top officials of the Goodluck Jonathan administration, as well of officials of Shell and Eni.
The transaction was authorised in 2011 by Mr. Jonathan through some of his cabinet ministers.
According to the new claim by the Nigerian government, it said the block was undervalued even at the time it was sold in 2011.
According to the filing, the block’s value, as at 2011 was about $3.5 billion even though it was valued at $1.3 billion.
The government also claimed that it only received an insufficient $209 million signature bonus in April 2011.
The government said it claims “further or alternatively, compensatory damages for the undervalue at which the OPL 245 rights were sold.”
It added that “The amount of the undervalue will be a matter for expert evidence to be particularised in due course. The FRN —Federal Republic of Nigeria— estimates the value of OPL 245 in April 2011 to have been at least US$3.5 billion for which it received no or negligible value (save that the FRN will give credit for any recovery pursuant to subparagraph 2(a) above, and the US$209 million signature bonus that it received in April 2011).”
“Further and alternatively,” the Nigerian government also demands, “an account of all past and future profits (or a declaration that the FRN is entitled to all future profits) made by each of Shell, Eni and/or Malabu, EVP and ILCL, out the unlawful exploitation of the OPL 245 rights, including the amount by which they benefitted from favourable terms, that they would not have received had bribes not been paid.”
The new claim, dated April 8 and signed by Jonathan Cary, was filed against 14 defendants, including Shell, Eni, Malabu and their subsidiaries.