Ms Felicia Segun, a Nigerian law expert has stated that president Goodluck Jonathan ordered the deal in which two oil giants, Shell and Eni paid $1.1 billion on Oil Mining Lease(OPL) 245 in 2011.
Ms Segun, who is Senior Partner at Nigerian law firm, ACAS was invited by Eni and Shell to be their witness in their ongoing trial in Milan, Italy for involvement in the deal.
“Ms Segun says that as the $1.1bn payment by Shell and Eni for OPL 245 was for settling claims on the block it shouldn’t be considered “public funds” and therefore wasn’t obliged to go into the consolidated revenue fund. She also points out the President ordered the deal.”
Journalist, Barnaby Pace who monitored proceedings from inside the Milan Palace of Justice said
Meanwhile, a Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court, sitting in Jabi, Wednesday, has ordered the arrest of former Minister of Petroleum, Dan Etete, as well as former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke, over the Malabu oil scandal.
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. According to international body, Global Witness, it was able to track 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.
After six years of denying any wrongdoing, Global Witness’ investigation forced Shell to admit it knew the money would be diverted into private hands, and went ahead with the deal anyway.
The landmark trial, which began hearing evidence in Milan in September 2018, involves current and former senior staff from two of the world’s largest corporations. They include Eni’s current CEO Claudio Descalzi, and former Royal Dutch Shell Executive Director for Upstream, Malcolm Brinded CBE.
The case brought by the Milan Public Prosecutor alleges that $520 million from the deal was converted into cash and intended to be paid to then Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and other Nigerian government officials. The prosecutors further allege that money was also channelled to Eni and Shell executives, with $50 million in cash delivered to the home of Eni’s then head of African Operations Roberto Casula.
On October 17th 2018, Global Witness co-founder, Simon Taylor, gave evidence in the trial, having triggered the investigation which led to the trial by submitting a criminal complaint by Global Witness, Re:Common, and The Corner House in 2013.
Today’s Echo reported in February that Dutch prosecutors were ramping up their case against Shell and the oil giant may face criminal prosecution in Netherlands. Eni has been facing trial for a while in Milan.
If found guilty, senior executives at both companies could go to jail. Shell and Eni could face enormous penalties, and be forced to hand back one of the most promising oil blocks in Africa.