Nigeria’s Attorney General played a prominent role in the deal.
In a desperate attempt to muddle-up facts, convicted felon, Dan Etete, has told a British High Court that he is not the owner of Malabu Oil and Gas and thus not the recipient of the whole $1.1 billion (N173 billion) fraudulently transferred to Malabu by the Goodluck Jonathan administration. The money was paid by oil giants, Shell and Eni, through the federal government, to Malabu.
Mr. Etete, a former minister of petroleum, told the court, in a testimony he gave on a breach of contract suit brought against him over the sale of the controversial oil block OPL 245, that he only made N37.5 billion ($250 million) working as a consultant for Malabu, the Economist is reporting.
PREMIUM TIMES had reported how Mr. Etete is the sole signatory into the bank accounts that the federal government paid about $800 million (N126 billion) of the oil bloc sale into.
However, Mr. Etete, who was convicted for money laundering in France in 2007, immediately contradicted himself in the same testimony when he admitted to being the sole signatory to Malabu’s account and couldn’t provide any evidence of other shareholders.
“I put my blood, I put my life into this oil block,” he said; while denying ownership of OPL245. When presented with a transcript of a recording where he said: “It’s my block,” Mr. Etete denied it; claiming the transcript was inaccurate.
Malabu’s Etete-appointed company secretary, Rasky Gbinigie, who claimed to be a “family friend” of Mr. Etete insisted that he had “lost the firm’s copy of the register of shareholders and all minutes of meetings, that there was no written correspondence between him, the directors and the shareholders, and that he had no documents to verify who put up the company’s original share capital.”
Mr. Etete also admitted in the court, what PREMIUM TIMES investigations had revealed, that the infamous Kweku Amafegha, who was named as Malabu’s “nominee director”, was an alias he uses constantly. According to him, he had opened bank accounts in the past that he always used when he went out for secret missions internationally.
PREMIUM TIMES had exclusively reported how Mr. Etete, then Petroleum Minister in 1998, violated Nigerian laws by creating a fictional character, Mr. Amafegha, to be a shareholder in a newly formed company, Malabu. He then awarded two oil blocs, including the disputed OPL 245, to the company; which also had Mohammed Sani, son of then military dictator, Sani Abacha, as a shareholder.
Nondescript businessman, Zubelum Obi, owner of oil consulting firm, Energy Venture Partners Limited, EVP, who is claiming a N30 billion ($200 million) compensation for acting as middleman in the sales of oil block OPL 245, brought the breach of contract suit against Mr. Etete.
Adoke as Etete’s lawyer
Fresh fact also emerged during the trial as to why Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke, played a prominent and dubious role in the fraudulent transfer of N155 billion to Mr. Etete.
The documents show that Mr. Adoke once worked as counsel to Mr. Etete. Sources knowledgeable about both men said this was during and immediately after the military era, when the ex-convict was still minister. Mr. Adoke’s spokesperson, Ambrose Momoh, did not pick calls to his phone seeking to confirm the prior relationship between both men.
Mr. Adoke has been instrumental to the success of the illegal acquisition and sale of OPL 245 by Mr. Etete using his position as the nation’s chief law officer. Following advice by Russian oil consultant, Ednan Agaev, to use the Federal government as a conduit for the transfer to Mr. Etete, Mr. Adoke willing obliged to make the shady deal sail through.
Due to the murky nature of the deal and less-than-ethical role played by international oil firms, ENI and Shell and following pressure from anti-corruption campaigners such as Global Witness, the European Union Parliament last Wednesday voted to make EU-based resources companies disclose all payments of at least €100,000 (N21.5 million) on any project. The Canadian government is also working on enacting laws similar to the EU’s
Campaigners say this new rule will reduce corruption as well as enhance transparency in the extractive industry.
“The new transparency rules in Europe and the announcement from the Canadian Prime Minister are two key advancements for anyone who cares about fighting poverty, protecting investors, making markets more efficient, or reducing corruption,” said Global Financial Integrity (GFI) Director Raymond Baker.
“Our research shows that the developing world loses roughly US$1 trillion per year to crime, corruption, and tax evasion. This is a systemic problem caused largely by the opaque, secretive global financial system. For citizens of resource-rich countries, the new EU rules—as well as the potential Canadian rules—will shine a light in places that need it most.”
The United States Department of Justice, DoJ, is also beginning to show increasing interest in the Malabu deal with at least one of the parties involved in the sale already contacted.