A former Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke, has denied allegations by Italian prosecutors that he received N200 million as a “kickback” from the $1.3 billion controversial Malabu OPL 245 deal in 2011.
Sergio Spadaro, the public prosecutor of Milan, had told a Milan court on Thursday that Mr Adoke allegedly bought a property valued at N700 million from a controversial businessman Aliyu Abubakar, owner of Carlin International Nigeria Ltd for N500 million from proceeds of crime.
Mr Spadaro also said that the embattled former AGF only paid N300 Million – while the N200 million difference was a “gift” to the former minister from the OPL 245 deal.
Mr Adoke is currently facing multiple corruption charges in two separate courts by a Nigerian anti-graft agency, EFCC – part of the charges before the Federal High Court (FCT).
The commission accused Mr Adoke of accepting N300 million from Mr Aliyu, to facilitate and negotiate the OPL 245 resolution agreement with Shell, Eni and their Nigerian subsidiaries sometime in September 2013, in Abuja.
However, in a statement issued on Sunday by the former AGF lawyer, Femi Oboro, of UK-based Gromyko Amedu Solicitor denied ownership of the properties traced to Mr Adoke.
The lawyers also accused the Milan prosecutors of twisting material facts from the courts.
Mr Oboro added that “Our Client has instructed us as his lawyers to report them to the Italian bar for “Professional Misconduct”.
In the statement, the solicitors said the N300 million traced to Mr Adoke’s account was a mortgage from Unity Bank and were confirmed by the “prosecution witness, Ferri Alessandro, in the Milan court.
It further explained that Mr Adoke could not come up with the N200 million difference because he had to pay interests and penalties on the mortgage, which the properties were later sold to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). “And he refunded the N300 million mortgage to Unity Bank.
“The Italian prosecutors said our client paid only N300 million with a mortgage from Unity Bank for the property. He said the difference of N200 million was a gift to our client, suggesting that it was a proceed of crime.
“It is our client’s contention that these allegations are completely false. The facts have been twisted and material facts have been hidden from the court in the most unprofessional manner.
“However, as the Italian prosecutors also discovered in their forensic investigation, our client could not come up with the N200 million equity contribution to Carlin International Nigeria Ltd. Indeed, he had to pay interests and penalties on the mortgage because it was not performing. With our client’s inability to pay, Carlin International Nigeria Ltd sold the property to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and refunded the N300 million mortgage to Unity Bank.
“Alhaji Aliyu Abubakar then retrieved the Certificate of Occupancy from Unity Bank and our client’s mortgage account was closed. Most of the facts were confirmed by the prosecution witness, Mr Ferri Alessandro, in the Milan court.
“To our client’s surprise, the Italian prosecutors, led by Dr Fabio De Pasquale, continue to create the false impression that the property belongs to him, thereby concealing the material fact that he never took possession of the house. This lie has now been repeated by Spadaro,” the statement partly reads.
According to the lawyers, the documentary evidence with the Italians corroborated the following that ” (1), the property was offered to our client for N500 million (2), Unity Bank gave him a mortgage of N300 million towards it (3), He couldn’t make his equity contribution of N200 million.
Others are: “(4), The property was then sold to the CBN as far back as 2013 (5) The N300 million mortgage was returned to Unity Bank by Alhaji Aliyu Abubakar in 2013 (6) He never took possession of the property. All these are indisputable facts.
“It is our client’s position that to the glory of God, nobody has traced any private jet or Phantom to him. No property, home or abroad, has been traced to him. No bank account has been frozen. The Italians have searched everywhere and they cannot find anything incriminating.
“That is why they keep making up stories. Money trail is the easiest thing to uncover in the world. You cannot collect $801 million bribe and hide it. You cannot hide N300 million. If indeed he was involved in money laundering, they will have stumbled on the evidence in the last five years when this persecution started.
“It is our client’s instruction that we serve notice to the Italian prosecutors that he will meet them in court at some point because he will not allow these despicable and evil lies go unchallenged,” the statement adds.
The EFCC has been after Mr Adoke for his role in the controversial Malabu oil scandal regarding the controversial sale of Nigeria’s OPL 245 oil field.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how almost half of the $1.1 billion paid by Shell and Eni in a controversial OPL 245 deal brokered by the government at the time ended in accounts controlled by Mr Aliyu.
The oil multinationals paid the money through the Nigerian government to Malabu, a company then controlled by Dan Etete, a former petroleum minister who is on the run.
Malabu, which was illegally awarded OPL 245 when Mr Etete was a minister in 1998, then transferred about half of the money into accounts partly controlled by Mr Aliyu.
Mr Aliyu is believed to have shared the money to top officials of Shell and Eni as well as officials of the Jonathan administration.
Shell, Eni and their officials are already being prosecuted in Italy for the scandal.
The EFCC last week denied dropping charges of money laundering against Mr Adoke in the controversial $1.1 Malabu Oil deal. This newspaper however established that the former minister’s name was removed and charges were dropped in one of the three cases filed against him.
Mr Adoke has always denied any wrongdoing. He said he acted professionally on the instructions of the former president, Goodluck Jonathan.