Malabu Oil Deal: Court Adjourns to May 14

  •  Executives of oil giants Royal Dutch Shell and Eni, are currently facing trial in Italy over the $1.1 billion Malabu affair.
  • An Italian court today postponed to May 14 the start of the trial of the two oil-giants over alleged corruption in Nigeria.

The trial in Italy of Royal Dutch Shell and Eni executives over alleged corruption in Nigeria involving the $1.3 billion controversial sales of OPL 245 oil block has suffered another postponement till May 14.

The case popularly referred to as Malabu Oil deal involves the 2011 purchase by Eni and Shell of Nigeria of Nigeria’s OPL-245 offshore oilfield, one of Africa’s most valuable oil blocks, for about $1.3 billion. Milan prosecutors had alleged that bribes were paid to win the license to explore the field, which has never entered into production. All the accused have however denied any wrongdoing.

A Former Petroleum Minister, Dan Etete, and a former Attorney-General, Bello Adoke, are amongst several Nigerians indicted in the deal, which was approved by Former President Goodluck Jonathan.

Shell claimed it bought the OPL 245 oil block for $1.3 billion dollars in 2011 supposedly from the Federal Government. Ultimately the money found its way to Dan Etete, a former Petroleum Minister and Owner of Malabu Oil Company who acquired the block from the Federal Government in 1998 for $20 million dollars. He was also petroleum minister at the period.

According to Buzzfeed, a Russian middleman who helped negotiate the transfer of the oil block to Shell and Eni, as saying that Dan Etete, the former Petroleum Minister at the heart of the oil scandal, said he intended to dole out as much as $400 million in bribes if the deal went through.

Several top-ranking civil servants and politicians were alleged to have collected kickbacks from the deal. This led the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) going to court, which led to an interim forfeiture order. About $80 million of the funds have been recovered by the Federal Government.

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