Malabu Scandal: Documents show British executive received money from Etete

Malabu Scam: Nigeria's former Minster of Petroleum Resources, Dan Etete, allegedly involved in the Malabu Scandal.
Malabu Scam: Nigeria's former Minster of Petroleum Resources, Dan Etete, allegedly involved in the Malabu Scandal.

Fresh details have emerged showing a British executive was a recipient of millions of pounds from the notorious multi-billion dollar Malabu oil deal.

Peter Bosworth and the trading firm he ran, Arcadia Petroleum, have been named in multiple court documents as among the recipients of funds from the deal, documents obtained by this newspaper’s London partner, Finance Uncovered, and The Times have shown.

The Malabu deal is the subject of criminal proceedings in Milan. Two middlemen have been convicted in one case, while Shell and Eni, two multinationals at the centre of the controversial deal, as well as some of their officials are also being prosecuted.

The deal is also the subject of civil action in the United Kingdom, where Nigeria has filed a High Court claim against the oil multinationals and JP Morgan, the bank through which the funds went.

Shell, Eni, some of their ex-officials and two former Nigerian ministers are also being prosecuted in Nigeria for their roles in the scandal.

Finance Uncovered found that 55-year-old Mr Bosworth and Arcadia Petroleum have been named as having together received $16 million originating from the deal.

Background

The Malabu scandal involved the transfer of about $1.1 billion by oil multinationals, Shell and ENI, through the Nigerian government to accounts controlled by a former Nigerian oil minister, Dan Etete.

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From accounts controlled by Mr Etete, about half the money ($520 million) went to the accounts of companies jointly controlled by Abubakar Aliyu, popularly known in Nigeria as the owner of AA oil, and Mr Etete.

Anti-corruption investigators and activists suspect Mr Aliyu fronted for top officials of the Goodluck Jonathan administration as well of officials of Shell and ENI.

The transaction was authorised in 2011 by Mr Jonathan through some of his cabinet ministers, and the money was payment for OPL 245, one of Nigeria’s richest oil blocks.

Although Shell and ENI initially claimed they did not know the money would end up with Mr Etete and his cronies, evidence has shown that claim to be false.

Shell later admitted it did know the money would go to Mr Etete.

Shell, Eni, Mr Etete, Mr Aliyu and several officials of the oil firms are being prosecuted in Italy for their roles in the scandal.

Last June, PREMIUM TIMES reported how Mr Etete acquired luxury properties in Dubai with funds believed to have been sourced from the controversial deal.

In April, the EFCC was urged to seize a private jet bought by Mr Etete from money he allegedly made from the Malabu deal.

Sketchy Details

Details of Mr Bosworth’s personality remain quite sketchy.

There is little publicly available information about him and he has no accessible photographs. He joined Arcadia Petroleum in 1992 and rose to become chief executive in 2000.

The commodities trading group is owned by John Fredriksen, a Norwegian billionaire.

Meanwhile, Mr Bosworth left Arcadia Petroleum in 2013 and has since been sued by the company over separate allegations that he and another senior executive jointly perpetrated a $335 million fraud against it. Although both men deny the allegations, the case continues.

Nigeria has said that it is “investigating the reasons” for the payments and is understood to be considering legal action to try to recoup the money.

In Italy, Arcadia Petroleum and Mr Bosworth are not parties in any of the litigation and both deny any wrongdoing. A lawyer for Mr Bosworth told Finance Uncovered and The Times that no proceedings had been brought against him in relation to OPL 245.

But, a huge cache of leaked emails and payment records compiled by Italian prosecutors reveals links between Mr Bosworth, Arcadia Petroleum and Mr Etete, who had been convicted of money laundering in the past. The documents suggest that Mr Bosworth advised Mr Etete on matters relating to OPL 245 and that Arcadia paid for flights and hotels for Mr Etete for several years spanning the 2011 deal.

This newspaper understands that the documents also appear to show that some of the money Arcadia received from the deal was set against Mr Bosworth’s debts to the company after it purchased a “sumptuous” Swiss château on his behalf.

In his reaction, Mr Bosworth said he had “no reason to believe anything was either unlawful or corrupt” in his dealings with Mr Etete. He admitted giving Mr Etete some “informal advice” but he argued that he was “not involved in the OPL 245 transaction”.

New Claim

The Nigerian government has a new claim in London, which seeks to recover money paid in bribes and seeks damages over the “fraudulent and corrupt scheme”.

Also, last month, a Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court in Jabi, Abuja, granted the prayers of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for a warrant of arrest against Nigerian officials implicated in the controversial deal.

The officials include Mr Etete and Mohammed Adoke, a former justice minister. Also declared wanted were foreigners including Raph Wetzels, Casula Roberto, Pujato Stefano, and Burrato Sebastiano.

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