FG alleges corruption in Malabu oil deal

The Federal Government has accused former President Goodluck Jonathan and the former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, of accepting bribes and breaking the country’s laws to broker a $1.3bn oil deal eight years ago, a London court filing shows.

The deal, in which Royal Dutch Shell and Eni jointly acquired the rights to an offshore oilfield, Oil Prospecting Licence 245, has spawned legal cases spanning several countries.

The Federal Government had in December last year filed a $1.1bn lawsuit against Shell and Eni in a commercial court in London in relation to a 2011 oilfield deal in Nigeria.

In papers advancing the London commercial court suit against Shell and Eni, lawyers for the Nigerian government said Jonathan and Alison-Madueke conspired to “receive bribes and make a secret profit”, keeping the government from getting what it was owed from the deal.

“Bribes were paid. The receipt of those bribes and the participation in the scheme of said officials was in breach of their fiduciary duties and Nigerian criminal law,” the filing, reviewed by Reuters said.

Attempts to speak with Jonathan’s spokesman, Mr Ikechukwu Eze, and Diezani’s lawyer, Dr Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), were unsuccessful as they had yet to respond to phone calls or reply to text messages as of the time of filing this report.

The 2011 deal is also the subject of a corruption trial in Milan in which two middlemen have been convicted and former and current Shell and Eni officials are also on trial.

An Eni spokesman said the Italian firm was assessing whether UK courts had jurisdiction on a case of “such duplication” to the Milan proceedings and repeated its view on “the correctness and compliance of every aspect of the transaction.”

Shell has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing in relation to OPL 245.

The London lawsuit relates to payments that Shell and Eni made to acquire the licence.

The companies transferred more than $1bn to the Nigerian government, according to the filing. Milan prosecutors have argued in their case that the bulk of that money was sent on to Malabu Oil and Gas, which was controlled by another former oil minister, Dan Etete.

Eni and Shell retain the rights to develop the field, which has yet to enter production but is one of the biggest untapped oil resources in Africa, with reserves estimated at nine billion barrels.

In the London court filing, the Federal Government said it only received a $209m signature bonus in relation to the deal, and that it estimated the value of the oilfield to have been “at least $3.5bn”. – Punch.

 

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