Tens of millions of dollars was wired to buy a private jet and armoured cars in the US from the controversial $1.3 billion sale of OPL 245, the Sunday Observer of London has reported, quoting court documents.
In the deal struck in 2011, only $210 million of the sum went into government coffers as “signature bonus” — the rest was paid to Malabu Oil and Gas, mainly owned by Dan Etete, who, as petroleum minister in 1998, had awarded the lucrative licence to himself.
OPL 245 is a huge oil block offshore estimated to contain 9.3bn barrels of crude — enough to power the whole of Africa for seven years.
The sale to Malabu was nullified by President Olusegun Obasanjo in 1999 and it was assigned to Shell without a public bid.
Ownership was suspiciously reverted to Malabu thereafter, leading to legal action by Shell who later resorted to negotiating directly with Etete after President Goodluck Jonathan assumed office in 2010.
A year later, the $1.3bn deal was struck, with Malabu getting $1.1 billion from Shell and Eni to its transfer ownership, while the signature bonus was paid to Nigeria.
Signature bonus is a one-time fee for the assignment and securing of a licence.
A joint investigation by the Observer and journalists from Finance Uncovered, a non-profit organisation based in London, has called to question Britain’s commitment to tackling high-end money laundering through the City of London as evident in the Malabu deal.
A $800m bank transfer to Etete, convicted of money laundering in France in 2007, successful went through the system in what the British newspaper calls “proceeds from one of the most corrupt deals in the history of the oil industry”.
Prosecutors in Milan believe two payments of $400m each were wired through JP Morgan in London as the spoils of the deal.
The newspaper reported that “more than half the money was converted into bags of bribe cash via bureaux de change in Nigeria, while tens of millions was wired to buy a private jet and armoured cars in the US, according to documents compiled by the prosecutors”.
The astonishing allegations were made by an Italian prosecutor, Fabio de Pasquale, whose previous scalps include former Italian leader Silvio Berlusconi.
In Nigeria, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has filed charges against Shell and Eni, and attorney-general at the time of the deal, Mohammed Adoke.
FULL STORY HERE