Malabu Scandal: How Shell used former British spies to gather intelligence while negotiating purchase of OPL 245

Shell
Shell

Multinational oil giant, Shell, set up an Intelligence network made up of some of Europe’s top spies which gathered information on some of the top actors involved in the infamous Malabu oil scam during the negotiations leading to payment of $1.1 billion for OPL 245, an investigation by UK-based Finance Uncovered has revealed.

The network made up of former members of UK’s MI6 spy agency, including Guy Colegate and John Copleston, gathered information which they circulated within Shell.

Mr. Copleston, a former British Intelligence attache, was hired as Shell’s “strategic investment adviser.” He and his partner, Mr. Colegate, designated Shell’s business adviser, performed tasks that fell into Shell’s business apparatus.

It was not clear whether Mr. Copleston worked directly with the Shell Intelligence Network Committee, SINC, a tightly knit group of ex-intelligence experts, set up by Ian McCredie, a respected spy, that had direct access to the company’s head office at The Hague.

Finance Uncovered said it tried to reach Mr. McCredie without success and there is no suggestion of any wrongdoing by him.

The investigation also revealed more intrigue surrounding the movement of $800 million out of the original $1.1 billion paid by Shell and Italian giant, Eni to Dan Etete, a former petroleum minister, after the Goodluck Jonathan administration used the Nigerian government as a conduit in the transfer of slush fund.

Within days of receiving the money from Shell and ENI, the Nigerian government instructed that the $1.1bn to be transferred to BSI Lugano, a Swiss bank. The Swiss account is believed to be owned by Dan Etete, a convicted felon, who had jointly set up Malabu oil, a fictitious company with the purpose of coveting OPL 245, considered one of Nigeria’s richest oil block with an estimated 9 billion barrels of crude.

British investigators are asking questions about how such huge transfer was allowed to sail through. UK money laundering law required banks to flag such transfers involving politically exposed persons, as Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs).

 

It was strongly suggested to Finance Uncovered that JP Morgan raised a SAR immediately it received the instruction for the transfer and wouldn’t have gone ahead with it without the approval of UK’s Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca).

Sources with knowledge of SARS told Finance Uncovered that UK authorities allowed the transfer to go through for one of three reasons: they saw no problem with it, they allowed it because the Nigerian government then under Goodluck Jonathan saw no corruption in the transfer and little could thus be done to obtain evidence for a freezing order, or they deliberately allowed the transfer so they could track it with the aim of obtaining intelligence.

The transfer immediately ran into difficulties soon after it was approved by JP Morgan. Swiss bank, BSI Lugano rejected the payment because of Mr. Etete’s criminal past.

JP Morgan also attempted to transfer the money via a Lebanese bank, which also refused to touch the money.

Two weeks later, the money was transferred into Malabu’s account in Bank PHB and Zenith bank.

Italian investigators claimed that kickback might have been paid to Mr. Jonathan. The former Nigerian leader has, however, denied he received any gratification from the deal.

Next month an Italian court will decided whether some of Shell and Eni’s executives should face criminal charges for their role in the deal.

In Nigeria, investigators have already filed corruption charges against Shell and Eni, as well as their officials allegedly involved in the scandal. Corruption charges have also been filed against Mohammed Adoke, who as Nigeria’s then Attorney General authorised the transfers to Mr. Etete’s account, as well as Mr. Etete.

Aliyu Abubakar, a man who received about $500 million of the money from Mr. Etete and who is believed to have acted as a middle man for several others including Mr. Jonathan, also faces corruption charges.

An application by the EFCC asking that OPL 245 return to the federal government was also granted by the court, although is being contested by Shell and Eni. The two oil firms have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing in the deal.

EDITORS NOTE: This story has been updated to reflect the up to date findings by Finance Uncovered.


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  • haba mallam

    Hang Jonathan and his crew, that’s the only answer

    • E.O Nelson

      @Omotolaaraujo:disqus

      There’s another issue. The forfeiture proceeding filed to seize Malabu oil bloc (OPL 245) will be the litmus test
      of Buhari government’s genuineness. By filing to annul the transfer of that oil bloc to SHELL and ENI the Buhari government has put presidential signature into issue. Buhari litigators have to argue in court that the signature
      of the president of Nigeria, by itself, does not legalize anything.

      That argument, if upheld by the court, will have ramifications for all employment and concession approvals given
      by past presidents of Nigeria. Buhari’s own signature will thereafter be put in issue on all approvals he also gave – especially in the first five months of his tenure in the year 2015 when he doled billions of Naira out to his cronies,
      including Brigadier Muhammed Buba Marwa; whom President Buhari paid one billion Naira, according to Punch newspaper report, without any clear and convincing commercial basis.

  • Omotolaaraujo

    The banks are responsible for the world’s corruption. None of this goes on without the help of the banks. They must be scrutinized more carefully.

  • Oluwabawayikpada

    Nigeria na waooo

    • crude oil watch

      @oluwabawayikpada:disqus

      Concentric circles of conspiracies in government

      A House of Representatives member, Razak Atunwa, mandated early this
      year to launch legislative committee probe into Malabu Oil criminal deals,
      broke into lamentations: “Nigeria and its citizens may be said to
      have been shortchanged to the tune of $1.1 billion. As we sit today, $110
      million is being held by the United Kingdom authorities from the fund as
      proceeds from corruption from Nigeria. Italian prosecutors have also requested
      that money from that deal in Swiss accounts should be frozen. The Nigerian
      people deserve to know what happened to their $1.1 billion which at today’s
      rate is over N500 billion. That amount can fund the entire budget of the Federal
      Ministry of Education”
      , Razak Atunwa intoned.

      But what’s more sad is the uselessness of the contraption called
      government in Nigeria. Since 1998, no agency or Ministry has complete dossier
      on the Malabu oil deals. Both the Parliament and the Executive branches just
      lament that they feel, not know, by how much Nigeria was robbed and how.
      Indeed, until Italian prosecutors came up with a fairly detailed report neither
      the EFCC nor the ICPC in Nigeria had a prosecutable investigative report on
      Malabu Oil deal. This is terrible, because it suggests there’s nothing worth
      calling ‘government’ in Nigeria for so long as the Departments and Agencies
      proved worse than useless to prevent this fraud for 20 years beginning 1998.

  • tuby NY

    Ain’t nothing NEW with this our corruption pattern! Way out or how to deal with our “highly corrupt n deranged” elites/politicians is WHAT SHOULD BE talked about/debated from here on yo..

  • Mary

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  • breakin’ news

    Breaking News:
    ……………………

    “They said
    he spoke to President Donald Trump; despite the hype, Nigerians were sceptical.
    Then they said he spoke to the king of Morocco; again, Nigerians were
    suspicious. Before we recovered from that, it is now the AU president that they
    said President Buhari spoke to. A president that can speak with outsiders
    should be able to whisper or wave to his own people. The people gave him the
    very important platform of President on which he stands today and, therefore,
    Presidential aides should stop giving the unhelpful impression that Buhari has
    no respect for the Nigerian electorate. If their problem is that they are
    looking for a credible person who can help them convince Nigerians that all is
    well with our President, Ayo Fayose is their best bet. Let the president speak
    with me. If I tell Nigerians that the president spoke with me, Nigerians will
    believe.”

    …………..Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti state

    (March 6th, 2017)

  • Shorty & Sharpy

    @tubyny:disqus

    The Muslims who packaged Muhamadu Buhari with
    Nepa bill instead of Wasc/Gce school certificate had their own narrow agenda to change
    Nigeria into Muslim leadership. So, it is the useful idiots who are not Muslims, and who joined
    to wave broom for this Islamic Jihad, that brought today’s sufferings upon themselves.

    • The prophet

      Sorry. Lamentations 1:1- 29

  • Dazmillion

    This was the deal that made Jonathan his first $1billion

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  • Tommy Soto

    Aha, the picture is becoming clearer by the day of how and where former first lady Patience Faka Jonathan possessed those billions of ₦!

    Royal Dutch-Shell has been a hell-hole of corruption for Nigeria since the discovery of petroleum in the country.

  • Rommel

    All over the world,former presidents who committed lesser crimes like the incredibly successful Lula da Silva of Brazil are facing criminal prosecution even serving world leaders like B B Netanyahu and Park Geun-hye of south Korea,so why is president Jonathan not behind bars?

    • Izon REDEEMER

      Jonathan can never be prosecuted by any court of law in any part of the globe—————-Simply–because the oil wells were handed over to Etete–by late Abacha–in 1998–and not Ijaw man Jonathan–who became president in 2011–Does it make sense to yr dirty regional skull now? Not only Etete–but also danjumah–who sold his quietly—–without any trouble—but that of Ijaw man jonathan—wahala start because of his Ijaw tribal marks–

      • Rommel

        Why did Jonathan approve payment when the said malabu is known to be a fake company and if Abacha awarded that bloc when Etete was oil minister,why was it not developed as stated in the agreement but rather sold for peanuts and money due FG paid to private individuals?

  • D a n g o t e-C e m e n t

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    AND #300 TO DELIVER PER BAG
    BUYERS CAN ORDER A MINIMUM OF 100BAGS,TRAILER LOAD OF 600BAGS,TRAILER LOAD OF 900BAGSS AND ABOVE,CONTACT THE SALES MANAGER
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    • Chuks Kalu

      Are you real? Need cement like 200bags

  • Izon REDEEMER

    How can Shell hire a spy to investigate an Oil block that was given to Etete by Late Abacha and not Jonathan-? These are some of the lies by————the Fulanis—-Ibos and Yorubas——————-Again——————-Does the story really make sense to the head of efcc—and the animals chasing Ijaw man etete about——for their own selfish end———-?——Shell Nigeria Limited does not get its hand burnt in any dirty shady oil deal——————Never——-How can Jonathan now become the issue when he was not the one that gave the oil block to Etete————-?—————————-Dont some of this mumu regionalist—-from the oil less zones of Nigeria- understand that if the federal government had not removed its hand or distance itself from the deal the Federal government would have been made to lose over $1b from fines——–via international courts abroad—-?———–Abacha hands over an oil well to an Ijaw man in 1998—–then in 2017 some Fulanis———–Ibos and Yorubas gang up to blame Jonathan who became President in 2011 over the gift of oil bloc k to Ijaw man Etete—–? ——————————Does it make any sense at all??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????———-what about the same oil well that late Abacha gave Danjumah why is his not under dispute——–in Nigeria————Separation is the answer——not the rule of the Fulanis –Yorubas and Ibo surroages in Apc——Animals