- President Jonathan, Diezani, Gusau, Adoke, Others Shared $1.3b In Malabu Oil Fraud
An investigative report by Italian prosecutors has alleged that ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, former Minister of Petroleum Diezani Alison-Madueke, former Attorney Generals Mohammed Adoke and Bayo Ojo, former Minister of Defense and ex-National Security Adviser, Aliyu Gusau as well as numerous other senior government officials shared hundreds of millions of dollars. In an indictment obtained by SaharaReporters, Italian prosecutors alleged that Mr. Jonathan and several officials of his government as well as top corporate officials of international oil firms, Eni and Shell, met several times between 2010 and 2011 to seal the fraudulent Malabu deal and split a massive loot running into hundreds of millions between Nigerian government and public interests as well as corporate officials.
The indictment shows that former Abacha-era Minister, Dauzia Loya Etete, better known as “Dan Etete” and his Malabu company were at the center of the scam that involved the sale of an oil bloc named OPL 245 he illicitly acquired in 1998. According to Italian prosecutors, Mr. Etete had engaged Zubelum Chukwuemeka Obi to source for buyers of the oil bloc. Subsequently, Italian oil giant, Eni, the parent of the Nigerian Agip Oil Company Ltd (NAOC) and Royal Dutch Shell, contracted to acquire 100 percent of the 245 oil block for a deal that totaled $1.3 billion. However, Italian prosecutors are alleging that much of the funds was set aside for fraudulent payments to Mr. Jonathan and other government officials as well as corporate executives working for Eni and Shell.
Apart from naming numerous officials of the global oil firms, the indictment also fingered Mr. Jonathan, Mr. Etete, Mrs. Alison-Madueke, Mr. Adoke, former NSA Gusau, Mr. Obi, Mr. Ojo, and Alhaji Abubakar as beneficiaries from the Malabu fraud.
Among the corporate players named in the Malabu deal are Paolo Scaroni, Eni’s Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, and Claudio Descalzi, the Managing Director of Eni’s Exploration and Production Division since July 2008. The indictment states that Mr. Scaroni “agreed to intermediation by Obi,” and was constantly informed by Mr. Descalzi of the progress of developments in the deal. In addition, he and Mr. Descalzi met then President Jonathan in person twice, “both during the finalization of the agreements (13 August 2010) and at the final stage, during an electoral campaign rally in Nigeria on 22 February 2011.”
According to the indictment, Mr. Descalzi maintained steady contact with Mr. Obi and two key Eni employees in Nigeria, Roberto Casula and Vincenzo Armanna, who helped coordinate a deal in which Mr. Jonathan and other senior officials of his government would receive illegal commissions in exchange for approving the Malabu oil deal. Mr. Descalzi also coordinated with his Shell counterpart, Malcolm Brinded, on the $1.3 billion price tag for the oil block.
Other Eni and Shell officials also attended meetings with President Jonathan in Abuja on August 13, 2010 regarding the OPL245 deal and, again, on February 22, 2011. In addition, the indictment states that the two oil companies’ executives attended meetings from November 18 to 25, 2010, at Mr. Adoke’s offices in Abuja. Apart from Mr. Adoke, Alhaji Aliyu Abubakar also known as “AAA Oil” was also present at the meetings during which, according to Italian prosecutors, “the financial conditions of the deal (1.3 billion) were agreed.”
The firms’ executives also met with Mr. Dan Etete in Milan, Italy from November 30 to December 1, 2010 and finalized issues “relating to the commissions.” Mr. Armanna, the Senior Advisor of Nigerian Agip Oil Company Ltd and as Eni Vice President for upstream sub-Saharan activities, reportedly played a major role in the scam. The indictment accuses him of maintaining contact with Mr. Obi and Mr. Etete, even though he was “fully aware of the destination of most of the sums paid by Eni to the political sponsors of the operation” and that some executives of Eni and Shell, himself included, were to receive “significant sums” from the deal. He is also accused of coordinating the fraudulent deal with his Shell counterpart, Peter Robinson, and hosting meetings at his residence in Nigeria with Shell executives. Mr. Armanna reportedly “supervised the Eni negotiating team’s drafting of the ‘resolution agreements.’” In addition, he met with Mr. Adoke numerous times to discuss the illicit transfers.
Italian prosecutors accuse Mr. Armanna of facilitating the Nigerian government’s active role in the Malabu deal, including the payment “of €1,092,040,000 intended for Etete, in addition to the ‘signature bonus’ of $207,960,000.” The indictment states that he coordinated with Gianfranco Falcioni and Bayo Ojo to transfer funds paid by Eni to the account of the Nigerian government at JP Morgan Chase London. As part of his reward, Mr. Armanna “subsequently received from Bayo Ojo the sum of €917,952 with the false payment reference of ‘Armanna inheritance.’”
The indictment states that, on October 30, 2010, Ciro Antonio Pagano, the NAE’s Managing Director, signed his firm’s offer to Raffeisen Bank, Obi’s advisor, for the company’s 100% acquisition of Malabu’s “participating interest” in OPL 245. The payments comprised $207,960,000 to the Nigerian government as the signature bonus and $1,053,000,000 directly to Malabu.
The indictment names Mr. Obi as shareholder in the company Energy Venture Partners Ltd (EVP), and as the person “assigned by Etete to find a buyer for block 245.” Italian prosecutors allege that Mr. Obi agreed with Etete that the “so-called ‘excess price’ – between the sum that Eni/NAE was undertaking to pay and the amount accepted by Etete, would be withheld by Obi, with the expectation that the aforementioned premium would be distributed among Mr. Obi, his sponsors, Di Nardo and Bisignani, Eni and Shell executives and “Nigerian government officials, in particular the Minister of Petroleum, Diezani Alison-Madueke.”
According to the indictment, Mr. Obi having met several times with Attorney General Adoke, and maintained direct relations with the AGF as well as with “persons connected to him, specifically Roland Ewubare and Oghogo Akpata.” He also maintained relations with Ms. Alison-Madueke and NSA Gusau, said the indictment.
The document also accuses Ednan Tofik Ogly Agaev of agreeing to a fee of 6% for his work as intermediary between Mr. Etete and Shell. It said Mr. Agaev, a Russian and former MI6 operative, subsequently worked for Shell as Senior Business Advisor and Strategic Investment Advisor. He is accused of meeting NSA Aliyu Gusau “on a number of occasions and having obtained information from him on the expectations of President Jonathan and other members of the government.”
The document describes Mr. Etete as “the fraudulent holder of the OPL245 exploration license since 1998.” He is also accused of “having received authorization from Minister of Petroleum Alison-Madueke to dispose of 100% of OPL245, following the decision of President Jonathan.” In addition, he “conducted confidential negotiations with Aliyu Abubakar, who acted as an agent of Goodluck Jonathan,” and “accepted, under government pressure, the total sum of $1.3 billion, established by Eni and Shell.”
Italian prosecutors also reported that Mr. Etete “received $801.5 million from the Nigerian government under the FGN Resolution Agreement, and having transferred to Abubakar Aliyu, directly or through companies attributable to him, funds of approximately $520 million, intended to be paid to President Jonathan, members of the government and other Nigerian government officials.”
The indictment also states that the Malabu deal involved an agreement that Dan Etete would use much of the funds from the sale of the oil bloc “for his own benefit and that of a large number of other beneficiaries to purchase property, aeroplanes, armored cars, etc.).”
The indictment added that “President Goodluck Jonathan and other members of the Nigerian government in office at the time, including Mrs. Alison-Madueke, Attorney General Muhammed Bello Adoke, National Security Advisor Aliyu Gusau, a member of the House of Representatives, Umar Bature, former Senator Ikechukwu Obiorah, and “holders of influence over President Jonathan and other members of the government” received huge payoffs from the Malabu deal.