A former manager of the international oil giant, Eni, Vicenzo Armanna has revealed how the bodyguard of former president Goodluck Jonathan showed him a trolley that was used to deliver cash to government officials during the Murky Oil Prospecting Lease(OPL) 245 deal with Malabu oil in 2011.
This was revealed on Monday during the resumption of hearing of Vincenzo Armanna, a defendant in the ongoing trial of Shell/Eni in Italy for alleged corrupt practices in the 2011 acquisition of Oil Mining Lease (OPL) 245 .
Armanna has accused his former colleagues of knowing that bribes would be paid to Nigerian officials and planning kickbacks for themselves. All deny wrongdoing.
In 2011, Shell and the Italian oil company Eni paid $1.1 billion in a murky deal for an oil block located off the coast of Nigeria: OPL 245. However, there are documents showing that this money didn’t go to benefit the Nigerian people.
“Instead it went to convicted money launderer and former oil Minister, Dan Etete, who had awarded himself ownership of the block in 1998 via a company he secretly owned, Malabu Oil and Gas, ” Global Witness says in a report.
During the resumed hearing on Monday, Armanna was asked about the attempted of transfer of the $1.1bn through Switzerland and a company controlled by Italian businessman and former envoy Falcioni. He said he warned that transferring the money through Falcioni and an Italian connected bank (BSI Lugano) was risky.
Here is a part account of the hearing as reported by British journalist Barnaby Pace:
” Eni’s current CEO Claudio Descalzi proposed using a different bank for the transfer and said that Nigerians should be in charge of the transfers of the money, not Italians.
“Armanna said he discussed at a meeting in June 2011 with Descalzi and other Eni executives a private jet flying cash from Nigeria to Europe. The prosecutor said the money didn’t get to Nigeria until August. Armanna says his memory for dates may be off.
“Armanna told the court that a presidential bodyguard showed him photos of a trolley with $50m in cash, like one used by the military for weapons, more than 1.5m high. The money was allegedly put on a plane but he doesn’t know where the plane went.
“Armanna said the bodyguard, Victor Nwafor, told him the money was for Nigerian officials. He said Nwafor talked about the relationship between Goodluck Jonathan and Diezani Alison Madueke and said Jonathan never stopped her doing anything.
“He also said that Etete was fine paying hundreds of millions of dollars to the “political sponsors” of the deal but doesn’t remember anyone specifically being named as a recipient, several ministers and senators were discussed but claims not to know who actually got money.
“Armanna explained that the transfer of Shell and Eni’s money would not have been legal with involvement of the Nigerian House of Representatives, who determine how government money can be spent.”