Malabu $1.1 billion Fraud: Shell, Eni want Nigeria’s richest oil block back

Shell
Shell

Two multinational oil firms have challenged the propriety of the Nigerian government withdrawing a major oil block from them.

Shell and Eni, through their Nigerian subsidiaries, asked a Federal High Court to reverse an order that revoked the award of OPL 245 to them.

Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court had on January 26 granted an interim order directing the return of the block – Nigeria’s richest, estimated to contain over 9 billion barrels of crude – to the Nigerian government,

The order was sought by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, which said it was investigating the corruption surrounding the block.

The EFCC has in a separate case charged two former Nigerian ministers, Mohammed Adoke and Dan Etete, as well as businessman Abubakar Aliyu to court for their roles in the $1.1 billion scandal, money paid by Shell and Eni to control the block. The commission is also expected to file charges against the oil majors soon; although they are already facing similar indictments in Italy, and investigations in the U.S., Netherlands, and UK.

The hearing on the application by the oil majors was stalled on Tuesday on the request of the EFCC who sought time to respond to the applications.

At the opening of session on the matter, the counsel representing the EFCC, J. A. Ojogbame prayed the court for an adjournment to allow him file his reply to the applications.

He explained that he has had some predicaments which prevented him from being able to respond to the application.

The counsel representing Shell, O. Ajayi, objected to the application for adjournment, saying that the EFCC had obtained an order ex-parte, which allowed the commission to have control over the OPL 245.

Eni building
Eni Building

Mr. Ajayi, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, said the EFCC had in its motion ex-parte, regarded the Malabu oil scam as an urgent matter requiring prompt attention. He, therefore, questioned the failure of the commission to respond to the applications almost two weeks after receiving the motion from the applicants.

After hearing the arguments, Justice Tsoho adjourned the hearing till February 27.

The EFCC had in December filled a nine-count charge of fraud against former petroleum minister Dan Etete, former Attorney General Bello Adoke, controversial businessman Aliyu Abubakar and some local firms.

The charge against Mr Etete is that he fraudulently received a total of $801 million from the Nigerian government, part of the money paid by the oil giants.

The two charges filed against Mr. Adoke were that he aided the transfer of the money to Mr. Etete and conspired with him to “commit money laundering offences”.

Mr. Aliyu was accused of receiving a total of $478.6 million fraudulently from the transaction.

The $1.1 billion 2011 deal

After several political and judicial intrigues that ensured OPL 245 changed hands several times between Malabu, Shell, and the Nigerian government, Goodluck Jonathan emerged Nigeria’s president in 2010. On the prompting of his attorney general, Mohammed Adoke, one of Mr. Jonathan’s first directive upon assuming office was that the oil block be given to Malabu.

Persons close to Mr. Jonathan told PREMIUM TIMES the former president took the decision because of his closeness to Mr. Etete who had helped him during his tenure as petroleum minister and because of the perception among persons from the oil producing Niger Delta that OPL 245 was one of the few oil blocks awarded to someone from the region.

By 2010, Mr. Etete had schemed out other owners of Malabu including by fraudulently altering Corporate Affairs Corporation, CAC, documents, investigations revealed.

The CAC recently said its official in charge of the Malabu documents was “brutally murdered”.

Despite Mr. Jonathan’s directive that Malabu be given OPL 245, the company really did not exist and had no staff or technical competence to manage the block. Based on advice from desperate businessmen including an Israeli, Ednan Agaev, Mr. Etete decided to cash in on the block. Through various middlemen, the former minister approached oil giants, Shell and ENI, to buy the block. Knowing Mr. Etete’s history including the fact that he had been convicted in France for money laundering, the oil firms would not do a direct deal.

For the transaction to continue, a legally recognised mediator would have to be found.

That mediator turned out to be the Nigerian government, represented by Mr. Adoke.

The agreements that were sealed led to Shell and ENI paying the $1.1 billion into a Nigerian government account in JP Morgan Chase in London. The money was to then be transferred to Malabu accounts controlled by Mr. Etete.

Although Shell and ENI have repeatedly claimed they did not know the money was going to end up with Malabu, investigations in Nigeria and Italy as well as leaked documents revealed that claim to be false. Mr. Adoke himself would later admit that he, on behalf of the federal government, only acted as a mediator for two willing parties – Malabu and the oil majors. Mr. Adoke was, however, aware of the various fraudulent manipulations of Malabu by Mr. Etete when he authorised the transaction, multiple sources have told PREMIUM TIMES.

Former Attorney-General, Bello Adoke
Former Attorney-General, Bello Adoke

THE TRANSFERS TO FRAUDULENT FIRMS

To ensure no one stopped the shady transfer of the $1.1 billion to Mr. Etete, the money had to be quickly transferred. More so, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was set to assume office as Nigeria’s Finance Minister and the officials involved were not sure she would play ball.

On August 16, 2011, a day before Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala was to assume office, Mr. Adoke and the then Minister of State for Finance, Yerima Ngama, authorised the transfer of the money to Malabu accounts in Nigeria controlled by Mr. Adoke. However, all the $1.1 billion could not be transferred. Emeka Obi, a man who claimed he helped broker the deal between Malabu and the oil majors filed a suit in the UK, that ensured $215 million was frozen of the money. The remaining $801 million was subsequently transferred to Mr. Etete: $400 million was transferred to a Bank PHB account while $401 million was transferred to a First Bank account.

Immediately Mr. Etete received the money, curious transfers began. PREMIUM TIMES investigations, now confirmed by the EFCC, reveal that shady companies linked to Abubakar Aliyu received about $479 million dollars from Mr. Etete. Our investigations later showed that most of the companies were non-existent and used fake addresses in their registration documents.

Former President, Goodluck Jonathan
Former President, Goodluck Jonathan

The companies – Rocky Top Resource Ltd, Imperial Union Ltd, Novel Properties & Dev. Co. Ltd, A-Group Construction Ltd, and Megatech Engineering Ltd – were all charged in the suit filed by the EFCC.

While Mr. Etete later admitted that only $250 million of the money paid into his account was his, Mr. Aliyu is believed to have acted as a front for officials of the Goodluck Jonathan administration including Mr. Adoke.


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  • sammyctu ode

    Who are Shell and ENI to dictate to Nigeria whom to sell oil blocks to? After all their corrupt practices on these issues paying corrupt Nigerian officials millions of dollars in bribe they still have the audacity to open their corrupt mouths that they want it back. In their countries by now the two companies would have been fined millions of dollars while their top executives will be in jail by now. How did sunmonu former Shell MD after retiring all of a sudden became the Chairman of Julius Berger, are his shares at JB not proceeds from this sales of this controversial oil block?

    • Okons

      @sammyctuode:disqus

      THE CLUE TO RESOLVING MALABU OPL 245 OIL BLOC IS ADOKE MUHAMMED.

      HE HAS FLED INTO HIDING IN HOLLAND – HE SHOULD BE ARRESTED THERE NOW.

  • emmanuel

    Malabu is a victim of foolani takes it all. We raised alarm when this government came into power that El-Rufai, Lamido Sanusi and Aliko are working behind the scene to have Malabu seized and re-allocated to thema
    I only beg the Niger Delta peope to let Etete have this Oil block back as one of the negotiating features of this Osinbade’s new craze for pacifying the people.
    The process which saw Danjuma, Indimi, Maideribe, Alakija, etc own the choice Oil Blocks in Nigeria is not different from this.
    The South South people must not be treated as fools always and thereafter handed promises for some cheap Vice Presidency – The new deceit now sold to all Governors and Senators from the region clandestinely (the same characters hold private meetings with with individuals, make same promises and you see them throw aside the struggle for the common good. It dawn on them after their party primaries that they have been scammed, they they sing reconciliation songs and party supremacy dirge.
    Malabu must not go to the North. John Tsoho was specifically chosen to execute the seizure.
    Eni and Shell, do not make yourselves victim of local politics, fight it anywhere. But i insist you must pay reparation for your environmental degradation too!

    • Izon REDEEMER

      Osibanjo or no Osibanjo—-Freedom is our Goal in the Ijaw Nation—–with no strings attached to any ethnic group in Nigeria—————And—not the fake rule of the Fulanis from Cameroon and the Yorubas from Seira Leon——————–and their Itsekiri and Urhobo errand boys——-from D FUTA JALON MOUNTAINS—–CLOSE TO———- delta state—————ati their surrogates from the far east————————————in APC–SLAVING FOR THE FULANIS IN ASO ROCK

      • Rommel

        Immediately Mr. Etete received the money, curious transfers began. PREMIUM TIMES investigations, now confirmed by the EFCC, reveal that shady companies linked to Abubakar Aliyu received about $479 million dollars from Mr. Etete. Our investigations later showed that most of the companies were non-existent and used fake addresses in their registration documents.

  • ::????????

    IF PREMIUM TIMES DOES NOT WANT ANY FREE RANGING AND INFORMED COMMENTS

    ON ANY ASPECT OF OPL 245 CASE, WHY NOT POST A CAVEAT UNDER THE REPORT?

    • ‘Sho’

      Premium Times is a Mujahedin media house where the Hijab is compulsory face veil

      for all the journalists in the newsroom; at the gate, in the toilet and the staff canteen;

      to be worn to bed always and never to be removed for a moment even in a bathroom.

      • Fili.Okun

        Premium Times has good reason
        for restricting comments at times on certain topics or arguments. They have 360°
        vision which no person contributing in this chat room has. I am not defending
        Premium Times for deleting comments posted here, but stating what’s likely
        obvious in journalism that such decision is not necessarily personal – though it
        may be in certain contexts.

        Editors may restrict certain commentators just to save them from
        themselves as anger at Nigeria’s infuriating circumstances rises. Nobody likes
        being robbed. But robbery is understating the Nigerian situation. What’s been going
        on in Nigeria is genocidal theft. In other words we are faced with thefts by
        officials done with intent to kill the populace and destroy the country.

        If only Nigerian people were less lethargic all these official treasury
        thieves can be nabbed by citizens’ arrest – by the ordinary people arming themselves
        as revolutionary militias. Within 48 hours 80% of Nigeria’s official thieves
        will be smouldering in ashes on the streets. Ultimately matters will come to a
        head and the populace will understand that self-defence against treasury
        thieves is the only lawful option left.

  • Izon REDEEMER

    It is sad that a Fulani and Yoruba owned media house———-Premium Times——–in its usual way and—without proper investigations will begin to pursue an Ijaw man over an oil block which was properly allocated to him and TY Danjuma————by late Abacha———–I have often asked a simple question with regards to this case and that is why is it—-that the oil block allocated to—————-Danjumah by Abacha in not being contested by any member—of the TRIPOD–the Fulani—-Yorubas ati Ibo owners of my< oil block in the South south——————–But that of Ijaw man Etete is————————–Happily for the Ijaw Nation it is Shell and Eni an Italian oil firm that is taking the Fake Efcc which has outlived her usefulness to court——and not Ijaw man Etete—————————ONE NIGERIA 3 REGIONAL LAWS——————-AGAINST THE IJAW NATION–AND THEIR OIL WELLS

    • Rommel

      The CAC recently said it’s official in charge of the Malabu documents was “brutally murdered”.
      Despite Mr. Jonathan’s directive that Malabu be given OPL 245, the company really did not exist and had no staff or technical competence to manage the block. Based on advice from desperate businessmen including an Israeli, Ednan Agaev, Mr. Etete decided to cash in on the block. Through various middlemen, the former minister approached oil giants, Shell and ENI, to buy the block. Knowing Mr. Etete’s history including the fact that he had been convicted in France for money laundering, the oil firms would not do a direct deal.