Malabu $1.1 billion Scandal: Ex-Nigerian oil minister, 12 others set for trial in Italy

Former Minister Dan Etete, the man behind Malabu
Former Minister Dan Etete, the man behind Malabu

A week after he was charged by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in Abuja, Italian authorities have indicated their intention to file criminal charges against a former Minister of Petroleum, Dan Etete, for his involvement in the $1.1 billion Malabu oil deal.

The prosecutors filed the notice in a Milan court last week, PREMIUM TIMES can report.

The EFCC slammed a seven-count charge of money laundering and fraud on Mr. Etete and others on December 20 at the Federal High Court, Abuja.

Apart from Mr. Etete, another Nigerian identified as Chukwuemeka Obi, is also among the 11 individuals to be charged by the Italian authorities. Shell and Eni are also to be sued, indicating a total of 13 defendants.

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 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 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: DescaJzi 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 $50 million bribe from the $1.1 billion the company and Shell paid into a Nigerian government account in 2011.

Summary of Malabu's history

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.

Sources at the EFCC and the office of Nigeria’s attorney-general, Abubakar Malami, told PREMIUM TIMES the Italian prosecutors have been coordinating and cooperating with their Nigerian counterparts. Fabio de Pasquale and other Italian prosecutors have been guests of their Nigerian counterparts several times in the past year.

Also, to ensure seamless prosecution of the indicted officials both in Nigeria and Italy, the two countries recently signed a mutual legal assistance treaty.

PREMIUM TIMES reported how the EFCC on Tuesday, filed a nine-count corruption and money laundering charge against Mr. Etete, Mr. Adoke, and controversial businessman, Abubakar Aliyu, for their roles in the scam.

Mr. Adoke it was, who authorised the transfer of $801 million of the money paid by Shell and Eni to Malabu’s accounts controlled by Mr. Etete despite having prior knowledge of the latter’s previous criminalities including manipulation of company registration documents of Malabu.

The former attorney general has however denied any wrongdoing and has pledged to return to Nigeria to face charges.

Mr. Etete, who was once convicted for money laundering in France, subsequently transferred over $450 million of the money he received into the accounts of fictitious companies controlled by Mr. Aliyu who investigators believe was a front for interested parties and top officials of the Goodluck Jonathan administration, including Mr. Adoke. Those four companies were also charged by the EFCC last week.

Mr. Etete would later tell a British Court that only $250 million of the money truly belonged to him. The €50 million cash the Italian, Mr. Casula, received in Abuja is believed to be part of the money transferred to Mr. Aliyu by Mr. Etete.

Apart from the charges filed on Tuesday, sources at the EFCC and the Attorney General’s office told PREMIUM TIMES that more charges would be filed against individuals and firms in relation to OPL 245 after the federal high court resumes in January.

In his reaction to the charges filed by the EFCC, Simon Taylor, Director of UK-based Global Witness, said, “We applaud the Nigerian authorities for fighting back against corruption without fear or favour, making sure there are real consequences for taking part in shady deals like with OPL 245.”

“This is a great step forward with the Nigerian authorities showing they are serious about tackling corruption. European and American law enforcement must also step up by fully cooperating and prosecuting anyone else culpable in this corrupt deal,” another transparency campaigner, Nicholas Hildyard of Corner House, said.

In reaction to the conclusion of investigations by the Italians, Barnaby Pace, a campaigner at Global Witness, a UK firm dedicated to transparency in the extractive sector, commended the investigations.

“Shady deals allow corrupt elites to profit at the expense of ordinary citizens. Shell and Eni now have to answer to the Italian courts, the public and their shareholders for their part in the corrupt deal for OPL 245 – oil companies can’t get away with this kind of behaviour any longer,” he said.

The Nigerian parliament is also conducting a new round of inquiry into the controversies surrounding the OPL 245 since its lease was first awarded in 1998.

The Department of Petroleum Resources had told lawmaker of the House committee investigating the matter that due process was not followed in the award of the block and that it was awarded to Malabu only on the directive of then Head of State, Sani Abacha.

Infographic---Malabu


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  • Aremu Mathew Okikiolu

    “…Simon Taylor, Director of UK-based Global Witness, said, “We applaud the Nigerian authorities for fighting back against corruption without fear or favour, making sure there are real consequences for taking part in shady deals like with OPL 245.” Well done Magu and Teammates in EFCC.

    • Saladin Cassandra

      Mohammed Adoke (Jonathan’s attorney-general) could become
      President Jonathan’s Achilles’ heel for assuring Jonathan that no
      criminal or civil liability will follow President Jonathan’s brokerage
      of a private oil bloc deal between SHELL OIL and MALABU OIL
      Limited after the initial illegal grant of OPL 245 to Dan Etete –
      contrary to law.

      Mohammed Adoke had said the federal government; i.e; President Jonathan
      merely acted as ‘obligor’, to sound confident in public ears that no liability can
      ensue for President Jonathan or even for himself on a separate premium of
      $40million said in rumours to have been paid to Adoke Mohammed to buy
      his consent privately.

      But in extent that an obligor does not mean an innocent bystander –
      but rather means a full participant as counterparty to a business transaction –
      Mohammed Adoke may just have blundered on this transaction and opened
      up President Jonathan to possible indictment for moneylaundering abroad.

    • ?????????

      “The Attorney General of the Federation (Adoke Muhammed) negotiated this settlement himself
      and all stakeholders took part and were properly represented. An escrow account was established
      with all the conditions for intents and purposes. I, Dauzia Loya Etete took part in all the negotiations
      that led to the final settlement agreement. Just a simple question: Can the (Nigerian) government
      litigate (against) itself? And why has federal government of Nigeria not charged oil multinationals,
      Shell and Agip (ENI) and Total, to court over this Malabu oil deal?

      ………………..Chief Dan Etete

      (December 27th, 2016)

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  • sammyctu ode

    It’s time for this Etete to spend the rest of his life in jail forever. He has been corrupt all his life and has disgraced Nigeria for decades. Magu has been doing a good job, he would be the first EFCC boss to file charges on this Malabu unending corruption but PMB’s chronic corrupt kitchen cabinet members have been plotting to oust him cos they know he would expose all their corrupt practices.

    • Peter_Edo

      gbam!!!

    • Man_Enough

      All those opposed to Magu are the real enemies of Nigeria.

    • Höly Wähala

      Is it Magu and his feeble EFCC that the headline tells you are charging them to court… has Magu requested for the exteadiction of Diezani from the UK or is she dead? He has charged all those associated with her but is afraid of her ghost ba? Remain thematic and stop dragging the Senate into this as they did their job of screening Magu and discovered that he is as corrupt as those he has been chasing. How do you justify Magu renting an uncompleted apartment for N20mio/yr (2yrs) yet, using N43million to “furnish” an uncompleted housing… that is fraud made in Ogbomosho, you hia me so? This is Dan Etete and El-Fortunato, better pray the Italians call Dr. Dumbo as star witness to tell us why he appended his signature to that heist of our common patrimony… and leave thief Ibrahim Magu out of it. Nonsense comment… mtchwww!

      • Izon Redeemer

        The same old senseless comment from the head of a semi–Osu Ibo club in diaspora—————-The question is who gave the oil blocks to Etete—————-and Danjumah—?——–The answer is Abacha—–if so why is it that the oil block that abacha gifted Danjumah who hails from the oil less zone of Taraba state is not under dispute–but that of Ijaw man Etete is—————Aware it was abacha that gave the duo the said oil blocks and not Jonathan—————————One Nigeria two laws abi—————–one for the Ijaws in the SS——-none fro the tripod-Ibos chasing etete————and their wife Deizani who sadly for us is married to an Ibo man—————-the very Ibos she assisted to become what they are not supposed to be———–in the oil industry————I like David WEST –SENT TO PRISON FOR HAVI NG THE GUTS TO GLANCE A ROLEX WRITST WATCH IN VIENNA

  • Man_Enough

    Meanwhile, farida was there, lamorde was there but they saw evil and kept mum. These two should be investigated.

    • SB

      They were serving their pay master

  • tunde

    When and where will these shenanigans stop?There are no more saints in the country.Stakeholders and elite have continued to find their hands in the cookie jar.This isi not the way the country is supposed to be.People go into government with ulterior motive to steal.The cabal also refused to restructure or introduce fiscal federalism and without that,the honcho should braze themselves for another 50 years in the wilderness.But i hope the country will not end up as a failed state.

    • Dez 2000 Rees

      @disqus_Gh5qeFWQYD:disqus

      When last June, the U.S Justice Department in Washington D.C, said it has begun criminal investigations of two

      counter-parties to this OPL 245 transaction, foreign oil observers fear that on the wording of ‘an obligor’,

      President Jonathan may well be one of the two counter-parties now under investigation for money-laundering

      in the United States of America.

  • Galantman

    Its far better for the Nigerians to be tried in Italy rather than Nigeria because we steal have justice for sale judges in Nigeria. So all the rantings of Adoke and Etete are all bluff. Let them face there demons

  • Crude Oil Observer

    “Contrary to claims
    by Shell and Eni, officials of the Italian firm (ENI) negotiated with Mr. Dan
    Etete .and definitely knew the money they were paying to the Nigerian
    government would end up in Malabu’s (bank) accounts controlled by him.”

    ……………Italian Police Investigation Findings
    (December 28th, 2016)

    “According to
    the (current) Nigerian Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mr Mohammed
    Adoke, Shell and ENI were fully aware, and in agreement, that the money would
    be transferred to Etete’s company, Malabu Oil & Gas.”

    …………Global Witness (United States)
    (November 12, 2012)

    WITH THE FULL FACTS UNCOVERED AND PROVED, WHY DID ADOKE MUHAMED
    SIGN TO AUTHORIZE THAT NIGERIA’S CRUDE OIL MONEY BE PUT INTO THE BANK
    ACCOUNT OF A PRIVATE INDIVIDUAL? THAT WAS WHERE THE CRIME BEGAN TO UNFOLD
    .

    • Gary

      I will gladly sound like a broken record on this: that there cannot be corruption in high places in government without the complicity of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF).

      The AGF in Nigeria is the official legal adviser to the President, the latter who enjoys immunity for his official actions and policies in office. All a President is required prove is that he acted in good faith on the advice of the AGF. So look at all the major scandals of the Fourth Republic till date, including the Buhari regime and you’ll see the involvement of the AGF.

      If sleazebags rather than people of proven integrity are appointed into that office, then rest assured that any talk of fighting corruption is merely that, talk. Or a smokescreen to perpetuate malfeasance in government. You can tell the direction and intentions of any administration just by reviewing the CV and character of the nominee for AGF. Mr. Itse Sagay and his well funded committee of Inquisition have done very little to recommend structural reforms to disable corruption. They are more interested in helping Buhari to herd the opposition to jail. Addressing the issue of who becomes AGF by administering a special oath of office with exemplary punishment and permanent disBarment for an incumbent who violates the oath will be a good starting point. And it is a low hanging fruit to pluck rather than going the fascist route of setting up undemocratic military style tribunals that will abused as we currently have with the feckless CCT (located in the office of the SGF now indicted for corruption!).

      • Samadani

        Well, everyone is entitle to his opinion!

        • zygote

          So, what is your opinion? silience?

    • Izon Redeemer

      Into whose account did danjumah pay the money he got from the sale of the oil well—that Abacha gave him and etete———thieves———————-in til u are able to answer those question Etete remains a free man—-one Nigeria two laws

  • Rommel

    Former Brazilian president Lula da Silva was indicted earlier this year,former Argentinian president was just indicted just yesterday for corruption even south korean president is facing impeachment for allowing a friend to influence her but in Nigeria,we can’t even indict a former first lady who has been found in possession of unexplained wealth,I doubt if there are any people who are more corrupt than Nigerians

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  • otunga

    Excellente`! Now I know we’re getting somewhere… I don’t trust anything Nigerian..

    • i dey ask?

      BUT WHY IS PREMIUM TIMES HIDING THIS STORY OF THE TRIAL OF OUR OIL MINISTER?

      HOW CAN IMMINENT ARREST OF NIGERIA’S OIL MINISTER BE A CORNER-PIECE STORY?

      • Gary

        Did you read the report well? The Oil Minister is Dan Etete, who served under Sani Abacha, while Buhari was PTF Chairman, by the way.
        They both served a regime that carried out the judicial murder of Ken Saro-Wiwa.
        Etete was then allowed by Abacha to reward himself with the oil bloc that has been the bone of contention after OBJ revoked it and GEJ then tried to give it back to him.

        The Malabu Oil saga encapsulates the tragicomedy of government in Nigeria.

        • SB

          Get this clear, was Mr. Adoke the AGF then, this must be a recent thing. When did Mr. Adoke became the AGF?

      • CeeCee1818

        Exactly this should be a top story in all the papers.

  • Tosin

    So much of this in the world today 🙁 while people have no jobs, no hope. #PenRobbers #AreNotLeaders #TheyAreThieves