SAN FRANCISCO, January 09, (THEWILL) – Former president Goodluck Jonathan has been accused by Italian prosecutors of receiving kickbacks as part of a $1.3 billion deal involving oil giants ENI and Shell in the Malabu Oil deal.
Although, according to court documents filed late last month in the city of Milan, Jonathan, who left office in May 2015, and Diezani Alison-Madueke, his Petroleum Minister who was also the first woman president of OPEC, do not feature on the list.
However, they are alleged to have played a central role in the deal, which saw ENI and Shell make a $1.3 billion payment in 2011 for an offshore oil block in Nigeria.
Prosecutors, who filled a case against 11 people, including senior executives from the two oil majors and the companies themselves, allege that ENI Chief Executive, Claudio Descalzi, and his predecessor, Paolo Scaroni, met Jonathan in person to thrash out the deal, which also involved former British intelligence agents working as advisors for Shell.
Prosecutors allege that ENI and Shell executives worked with Nigerian businessman Dan Etete, who was oil Minister under the military ruler Sani Abacha from 1995 to 1998.
Etete’s company Malabu was the fraudulent holder of the OPL 245 block, according to the court documents.
Prosecutors further allege that after talks in Milan and Abuja, the block was bought illegally by the oil majors in contravention of domestic laws, without competitive tendering and with full, unconditional exemption from all national taxes.
A total of $801.5 million was allegedly transferred to Etete’s Malabu accounts, of which $466 million was converted into cash in Nigeria and used for remunerating government officials, including Jonathan and Alison-Madueke.
A further $54 million was withdrawn by Abubakar Aliyu, whom prosecutors describe as an agent of Jonathan while the beneficiaries of the money went on a shopping spree buying property, aeroplanes and armoured cars.
THEWILL recalls that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), also recently pressed charges in connection with the same Malabu oil block deal.
Meanwhile, ENI and Royal Dutch Shell have both denied wrongdoing while Alison-Madueke who is facing a flurry of graft allegations on suspicion of bribery and money laundering has also denied the allegations.