Malabu $1.1 billion scandal: Italian prosecutors request trial of Etete, Shell, Eni, others

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

Sources close to Italian law enforcement on Wednesday confirmed that they have requested that Shell, Eni and several Eni senior executives including the current CEO Claudio Descalzi, be sent to trial for alleged international corruption offences over the 2011 purchase of the massive Nigerian OPL 245 oil block.

Italian prosecutors also requested that former Nigerian Oil Minister, Dan Etete, and several other individuals be sent to trial. They are also seeking seperate charges against four senior Shell executives including the current Shell Foundation Chairman Malcolm Brinded, who at the time of deal was head of Global Exploration and Production.

In 2011, Shell and Eni paid $1.1 billion to Malabu Oil and Gas, a front company secretly owned by Mr. Etete. Prosecutors have alleged that over $500 million went to “fronts for (former) President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria”.

This crooked deal deprived Nigeria’s people of a sum worth 80 per cent of its 2015 healthcare budget. Shell and Eni have always denied that they knew the money would go to Malabu, but documents seen by Global Witness show that the companies constructed the deal knowing that the money would flow ultimately to Mr. Etete’s company.

Mr. Jonathan has denied the allegations, saying in a statement that he has never used fronts to “seek favour or collect any gratification on his behalf.”

“This request demonstrates that major international companies and their senior executives are not above the law. Shell and Eni look now to be finally facing a trial over these matters, and others need to wake up to the new reality where corrupt deals and the actions that lead to them cannot stay hidden behind closed doors. Global Witness has campaigned for decades to carve out transparency in this secretive sector; this case proves that the age of accountability is dawning.” said Simon Taylor of Global Witness.

Global Witness, Re:Common and The Corner House have campaigned and exposed the corruption around the OPL 245 deal for several years.

In January 2017 Nigerian authorities seized the block, pending the prosecution of the oil companies involved. Nigerian anti-graft commission, EFCC, labeled the oil block “proceeds of crime” and stated that they are seeking charges of “Conspiracy, Bribery, Official Corruption and Money Laundering” against Shell and Eni subsidiaries in Nigeria.

In his reaction to the Italian prosecutors actions, Nick Hildyard of The Corner House said, “It is excellent to see the Nigerian and Italian authorities together seeking justice and tackling the ‘fantastic corruption’ that the Global North promotes and benefits from.“

Antonio Tricarico of Re:Common said, “The Italian Government and other Eni shareholders must ask if Eni’s board has been asleep at the wheel over the company’s governance? Eni’s board should not be reappointed in April this year with an impending trial over serious alleged criminality by the CEO and other senior executives?”

In a press release on Wednesday, Eni’s board of directors commented that “Eni is entirely free of any involvement in the alleged corrupt conduct subject to investigation. The Board of Directors also confirms its total confidence that the company’s CEO, Claudio Descalzi, was not involved in any way in the conduct under investigation, and maintains their upmost support for him as CEO.”

No comment was immediately available from Shell. Shell has previously stated that “we hope to show that there is no basis to prosecute Shell. Shell takes this matter seriously and is co-operating with the authorities.”


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  • Bolaji A.

    Premium Times Editor,

    ITALIAN PROSECUTORS need spatial consciousness. The key to unraveling the OPL 245
    Malabu deal is Adoke Muhamed. He was last seen hiding in Holland. Until Adoke Muhammed
    is arrested by Interpol there will be random guesses and arbitrary arrest of persons deemed
    implicated by virtue of office, whereas, according to Chief Dan Etete himself, just one person
    negotiated this whole financial scam all by himself and that person is Adoke Muhammed – the
    (former) attorney general under President Goodluck Jonathan. He must be arrested immediately.

    • Okons

      @zacchaeusakinleye:disqus ,

      My brother, yeye dey smell for Nigeria O!

      Which kind country is this that attorney general is now a thief-thief on the run?

      Nigeria don spoil. Chief Law Officer now turned to thief and fugitive at the same time!

  • zacchaeus Akinleye

    Adoke Muhammed, as Nigeria’s attorney general negotiated away a national egg-nest in favor of a protected few and sacrilegious cabal. This criminal should be arrested from his hiding place in Holland to face justice that he denied his country. Nigerians, this criminal activities brought recession to the country and it is ungodly to blame Buhari who dare to recover this loot. REPENT NIGERIA!

  • Dazmillion

    When will they request for the trial of Dr Fortunato so that Reno Omokri can shut his stinking mouth for once

  • Sword of Damocles

    Approximately 2 weeks ago some chap who goes by the name “gary” came on this here space, and I quote him: “I have read & re-read the prosecutors inquiry & no where do they inplicate/indict Fortunato, aka treacherous wretch from Otuoke, I suggested rereading a third time (3rd time’s the charm). Now I have taken it upon myself to PASTE for “GARY”:

    “Prosecutors have alleged that over $500 million went to “fronts for (former) President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria”.
    I hope it is now clear to the ass/boot lickers(or “brown tongues”) for these traitors , that what we have in “Hobbesland” is a whole bunch of suckers who bullet is too good for their Treasonous behind, they should all be hanged using the strings from their “shokoto” so that their brocos can be there for all t o see what begets traitors. I think the reason quite a few Nigerians recoil from the suggested punishment, is because these people do not think it is treason to see from one’s own country(I guess the offense is not GRAVE enough). The only truth is that GEJ is not the only thief in Nigeria, he is only the most PROLIFIC. Like I said 2 week ago NO LOOTER SHOULD BE LEFT BEHIND. “French neckties” for the lot

  • Nkem

    Claudio Diezani?