May 22, 2012

Jonathan, Shell, Etete, In Fresh N155billion Scandal

(P m) – The Federal Government is enmeshed in court cases in the U.S. and UK over a curious $1.1bn (about N155 billion) payment made to a company belonging to former oil minister, Dan Etete.

Four years after he was convicted of money laundering in France, Dan Etete, a former Petroleum Minister, through his company Malabu Oil, has become a billion dollar richer, courtesy of the Nigerian Government and Shell.

According to documents (filed March 22, 2012) before the Supreme Court of the State of New York in the US, President Goodluck Jonathan discreetly approved the transfer of the sum of $1.1bn to Mr. Etete on April 29, 2011, two weeks after he was re-elected.

The money was first paid to the Federal Government by two multinational oil companies: Nigeria Agip Exploration Limited (Agip) and Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Limited (Shell) in respect of oil block OPL 245.

But shortly after the funds were credited to the Federal Government’s account, Mr. Jonathanordered that it should be secretly transferred to a London account of Mr. Etete’s company, Malabu Oil.

It is not clear what deal Mr. Jonathan struck with Malabu, and on what basis the payment was made. President Jonathan’s spokesperson, Reuben Abati did not answer or return calls seeking his comment for this story. He also did not respond to a text message sent to him for the same purpose.

The government made the payment to Mr. Etete’s company even when it had repeatedly insisted that the award of the oil block to Malabu was done in violation of laid down procedures.

Shell insisted it had no knowledge that the government passed the funds to Mr. Etete’s company.