‘How Etete, Adoke, Shell Defrauded Nigeria Through Malabu Oil Deal’
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) gave details yesterday of how some highly placed Nigerians, including ex-ministers and multinational oil companies allegedly defrauded the country of billions of dollars through the now notorious Malabu oil deal.
The commission also revealed how former Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) Mohammed Adoke allegedly aided the payment of $1.2b bribe to ex-Petroleum Resources Minister Dan Etete, using his position in the President Goodluck Jonathan.
The EFCC, which said it had conducted a painstaking investigation into the case both in Nigeria and offshore, stated that its probe also revealed that Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd and Shell petroleum Development Company (SPDC) secured OPL245 through a fraudulent scheme involving high scale bribery and corruption by top management of the company.
It said further investigations revealed that the Federal Government was defrauded by Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd by under paying $210m as signature bonus on the OPL 245.
The commission also shed light on how the late Gen. Sani Abacha, Etete (his Petroleum Minister) and Hassan Adamu (Nigerian Ambassador to the United States under Abacha) allegedly used their positions to influence the unlawful allocation of OPL 245 to Malabu Oil.
The EFCC revealed these in an ex-parte motion it argued yesterday before the Federal High Court, Abuja seeking, among others, an order of interim forfeiture of the oil well known as OPL 245, being managed by Shell pending the conclusion of its investigation and prosecution of all identified culprits.
After listening to EFCC’s lawyer Jonson Ojogbane, who moved the motion, Justice John Tosho granted the two interim orders of forfeiture sought by the EFCC.
Details of the EFCC’s investigation on the Malabu case was contained in a supporting affidavit it filed with the ex-parte motion.
It said: “Sometime in April 1998, Malabu Oil and Gas Limited was incorporated in Nigeria with shareholders, namely: Mohammed Sani (fronting for the late General Sani Abacha), Kwekwu Amafegha (representing Dan Etete, the then Minister of Petroleum Resources) and Hassan Hindu (on behalf of Ambassador Hassan Adamu).
“In April 1998 the company was incorporated, the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources offered the company deep water oil block prospecting licence in respect of Oil OPL 245 in line with the Federal Government’s indigenous policy in the upstream sector.
“The oil prospecting licence, against all known government regulations, was awarded to Malabu Oil and Gas even before a formal application was submitted by the company.
“In June 1998 Gen Sani Abacha died and between 1999 and 2000 the corporate status and shareholding structure were altered severally through forged resolutions, which eventually divested Mohammed Sani of their shares, while new shareholders and directors were appointed fraudulently.
“At the time the company, namely Malaya Oil and Gas Ltd, was incorporated, Gen Sani Abacha and Dan Etete were Head of State and Minister of Petroleum Resources, while Hassan Adamu was Nigerian Ambassador to the United States of America between 1996 and 1999,” the EFCC said.
It added that as at when they incorporated Malabu Oil, Gen Sani Abacha, Dan Etete and Hassan Adamu were barred by extant laws from engaging in any form of business by virtue of their offices.
“They used their positions to confer unfair advantage on themselves and cronies in allocating OPL 245 to themselves withou due process.The company contracted Shell Petroleum and SNEPCO, in a joint venture scheme, for the purpose of prospecting and operating the said licence given by the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“To the knowledge of Shell, the allocation of the oil well and the procedure adopted by the owners of Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd was fraught with fraud, but went ahead to consummate the transaction.
“Sometime on 2nd July 2001, the Federal Government withdrew the title and allocation of OPL 245 to Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd on the directive of Mr. Funso Kupolokun, the Then Presidential Adviser on Petroleum to President Olusegun Obansajo after which same was reallocated to Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep Ltd.
“Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd sued the Federal Government over the revocation, but the suit was later withdrawn and settled out of court by the parties and the said oil well was reallocated to Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd.
“Shell AND Agip again went into a fraudulent agreement with Malabu Oil and Gas, in which the companies will pay signature bonus of $210m to the Federal Government of Nigeria, while $1.2b would be paid to the owners of Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd.
“Shell Petroleum was later to explain that the payment was for compensation, but investigation conducted revealed that the money was bribe to Dan Etete and his cronies.
“Shell was aware at the time of consummating this transaction that Dan Etete, the owner of Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd, was already a convict and hence, was not willing to pay the said sum of $1.2b directly to Dan Etete and or Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd directly.
“One Mohammed Adoke was the Federal Government counsel in series of arbitration instituted by Shell in London on the said oil well and, who later became the Attorney general of the Federation, conspired with Shell/Agip to route the payment of the said sum of $1.2b bribe money through Federal Government Escrow Account with JP Morgan Chase bank.
“The said Mohammed Adoke had written a letter ref. No: HAGF/FMPR/2011/Vol. 1/12 dated 9th February 2011 seeking the advice of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) on whether to consummate the transaction involving Shell Ultra Deep Sea, Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd, NNPC, Nigeria Agip Exploration and production Company (SNEPCO).
“The DPR replied in a letter reference No: PILD/880.T dated 1st o April 2011 and advised against the transaction on the ground that it was highly prejudicial to the interest of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“Despite the advice, the then AGF, Mohammed Adoke approved the payment of the $1.2b bribe money through Federal Government Escrow Account with JP Morgan Chase Bank in London. Sometime in May 2011 Nigeria Agip Exploration and SNEPCO instructed Chase Bank to release $1,092,040,000 into Escrow Account of the Federal Government.
“The money, on the instruction of the then AGF, Mohammed Adoke, was transferred from the Escrow Account to two banks namely, First Bank and Keystone Bank operated by Dan Etete and Malabu Oil and Gas ltd.
“The said amount was later laundered with several accounts of individuals and different companies. Investigation further revealed that the Federal Government was defrauded by SPDC and Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd by under paying $210m as signature bonus on OPL 245.
“Investigation conducted revealed that Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd and SPDC secured OPL245 through fraudulent scheme involving high scale bribery and corruption by top management of the company.
“Information available to the applicant (EFCC) is to the effect that a London judge, sitting in the Southwark Crown Court refused to release to Dan Etete and Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd $85m which is connected to the said fraudulent transaction by Shell Nigeria, Nigeria Agip Exploration and Malabu Oil and Gas in respect of OPL245.
“The $85m formed part of the proceeds of the fraudulent transaction between Shell Nigeria, Nigeria Agip Exploration and Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd. The said sum was seized as a result of request by Italian prosecutors,” EFCC said.