Court Orders Forfeiture Of $40m Worth Of Jewellery Belonging To Diezani

EFCC Seeks Diezani’s Extradition, Court Adjourns Arraignment Till May
(File) Former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke.

 

A Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered the interim forfeiture of jewellery valued at about $40m, belonging to Former Minister of Petroleum, Diezani Allison-Madueke, to the Federal Government.

The EFCC had seized the items comprising wristwatches, necklaces, bracelets, bangles, earrings, as well as a gold iPhone from a premises belonging to the former minister.

In the application, the EFCC said it believes that the pieces of jewellery were obtained with proceeds of unlawful activities by the former Minister.

The Commission also stated that Mrs Allison-Madueke’s known and provable lawful income is far less than the value of the jewellery sought to be forfeited.

In granting the application, Justice Oweibo agreed with the EFCC that the court has the statutory powers under the provision of Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud Act 2006 to order the forfeiture.

The judge also ordered the anti-graft commission to publish in any national newspaper the interim order of forfeiture to serve as notice to the former Minister or anyone interested in the assets to be forfeited to appear before the court to show cause within 14days why the assets should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.

The court then adjourned further proceedings till August 13.

See the court documents below.

EFCC Files Charges Against Shell, Eni, Nine Others

EFCCThe Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has filed a three-count charge of conspiracy and corruption against two multinational oil firms, Shell and Eni, for their roles in the alleged Malabu $1.1 billion scandal.

Nine others were also charged along with the two multinational companies before an FCT High Court in Abuja on Thursday.

Those charged alongside Shell and Eni are a former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke, and a former Minister of Petroleum, Dan Etete, as well as a businessman Aliyu Abubakar.

In the first count of the charge, Shell Nigeria, Nigeria AGIP Exploration Ltd., Eni S.p.A, a former Director of SNEPCO, Ralph Wetzels, two Italians who are former directors in AGIP, Casula Roberto and Burrafato Sebastiano, Douzia Louya Etete popularly known as Dan Etete, Mohammed Adoke, Aliyu Abubakar and Malabu Oil & Gas Ltd. allegedly conspired sometime in 2011 to commit an offence of official corruption.

In the charge sheet signed by Jonson Ojogbane for the EFCC, the offence was said to be contrary to Section 26 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act of 2000 and punishable under Section 12 of the same act.

In the second charge, Dan Etete, Mohammed Adoke, Aliyu Abubakar and Malabu Oil & Gas were alleged to have corruptly received the sum of eight hundred and one (801) million dollars in respect of OPL 245 from Shell Nigeria, Nigeria Agip Exploration Ltd. and Eni S.p.A.

The new charges were said to be part of an international collaboration to ensure that all those who partook in the alleged $1.1 billion OPL 245 scandal were brought to justice.

The OPL 245 oil block is currently owned by the Nigerian Government after a temporary court order granted on the basis of an EFCC application.

Shell and Eni have since appealed the order asking that the block be returned to them.

British Police Probe Shell, ENI Over Sale Of $1.3 billion OPL 245 In Nigeria

British police are investigating a money-laundering allegation related to a big oil field bought by Shell and ENI from Nigeria for $1.3 billion, after most of the cash they paid ended up in a company linked to former Minister of Petroleum, Dan Etete.

The probe concerns offshore block OPL 245, which industry sources say contains up to 9.23 billion barrels of crude – more than enough to keep China running for two and a half years – the ownership of which had been in dispute for more than a decade.

“The proceeds of Crime Unit is investigating a money-laundering allegation in the UK in connection with OPL 245. The investigation is at an early stage,” a UK spokesman said.

Transparency campaigners, who asked the UK to look into the matter, assert that Shell and ENI used the Nigerian government as a go-between to obscure the fact that they were dealing with former oil minister Dan Etete, who also has a 2007 money-laundering conviction in France related to bribes he was alleged to have taken when in government.

In his capacity as Minister of Petroleum, Etete awarded block OPL 245 in 1998 for a payment of just $2 million to Malabu Oil and Gas, a company in which he played a prominent role.

The critics claim that Shell and ENI, which haven’t been accused of any legal wrongdoing, wanted to distance themselves from Etete given his reputation and his involvement in the original award of the oil block to Malabu.

A Shell spokesman told Reuters it had purchased the block from the government, making no payment to Malabu, and that it acted transparently and in accordance with Nigerian law.

ENI declined to comment to Reuters, but it told shareholders in May that the transaction was with the government, not Malabu.

Reuters was not able to locate Etete for comment. His lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

While Shell and ENI say they bought the block from the Nigerian government, for which they paid it $1.3 billion in 2011, the federal government says it was helping resolve an ownership dispute over the block between Shell and Malabu and immediately transferred $1.09 billion from the sale to Malabu. The government retained the remainder.

Etete had awarded the block to Malabu during the rule of military dictator Sani Abacha, whose son Mohammed and other close allies were shareholders in the company. That deal was later annulled after the death of Abacha by a new government that judged the award improper.

In a UK court case brought by Emeka Obi against Malabu for unpaid fees relating to his help in brokering the Shell/ENI deal, the judge in that case, Justice Elizabeth Gloster, concluded in her ruling last week that “From its incorporation and at all material times … Etete had a substantial beneficial interest in Malabu.”

Etete said he was only a consultant to the company, but he represented the company in the court case and in all negotiations with the oil majors, and he told the court he was the sole signatory to its accounts.

Documents relating to Obi’s London case show that both Shell and ENI met several times with Etete to negotiate the deal. An email from a Shell employee to another middleman recounts how he met Etete for face-to-face negotiations over “lots of iced champagne”.

Obi said in court he approached ENI on Malabu’s behalf on December 24, 2009, and introduced Etete to an ENI representative to discuss the deal.

THE GO-BETWEEN

Global Witness campaigner Tom Mayne said: “It’s obvious from the meetings Shell and ENI both had with Dan Etete that they knew he was the person to speak to and then agreed that the deal be structured in such a way that it went through the government.”

Babatunde Oluajo, national secretary of Zero Corruption Coalition, told Reuters his Nigerian campaign group had asked the UK government to look into the matter.

“In regard to our … commitment to the fight against corruption in Nigeria … we wish to … formally request for a full investigation into the activities of … companies and individuals in the procurement of the OPL 245 in Nigeria,” reads a letter the group sent to the UK High Commissioner on July 5.

Nigerian lawmakers also began investigating the deal last week to ascertain if Attorney General Mohammed Aboke, who helped finalise the deal with Eni and Shell, had acted properly, as his involvement only came to light in the London court case.

Aboke said he was acting in the interests of all parties to facilitate a deal and end the long-running ownership dispute over the oil block. He also said in a press report last week that resolving the dispute would help the government attract investment into the oil and gas sector.

The investigations highlight the regulatory risks faced by oil companies doing business in African countries with a history of weak governance and endemic corruption.

In the five years Abacha was in power, he liberally dished out oil blocks to political allies and is suspected of having enriched himself to the tune of about $4 billion before he died.

Malabu had been registered on April 24th, 1998, five days before Etete awarded it block OPL 245. Three months later, Abacha died.

Though Malabu’s original shareholders had been Abacha’s son and allies – and Etete himself, according to the British judge in Obi’s court case – the company secretary Rasky Gbinigie told the court he had lost all the documents showing who owned it now.

The ownership of OPL 245 had also been unclear ever since the government annulled the initial award to Malabu in 2001, and then awarded it first to Shell and then back to Malabu after a series of court cases.

Shell was still pursuing action to recover the block when it finally struck the deal to buy it with ENI in 2011.

Doyin Okupe denies condemning Ribadu panel report

The Special Assistant to the President on Publicity, Dr Doyin Okupe was asked by Chamberlain Usoh; the main anchor of ourbreakfast programme ‘Sunrise Daily’ to give an update on the Ribadu report, and he responded saying the President has said the report will not be discarded.

And to fulfil his promise he has setup a white paper committee to look at the report and that he believes it will put an end to several talks on the report.

Prevoius Article: Presidency rubbishes Ribadu’s report

Watch complete interview for more details.

Oil Sector Probes: There is a rot in the system – Oil and gas expert

Still on the controversial probe into the nation’s oil sector, an oil and gas expert; Kestin Pondi, while speaking on the Ribadu report, stated that the report has proved to people of the Niger Delta in the creek that the claims of the International Oil Companies (IOCs) and the NNPC that they lose 150,000 barrels of crude oil daily to oil thieves is fallacious.

Mr Pondi, considers what happens in the oil offices in Abuja to be a ‘monumental fraud’ as there is a rot in the system.

He further alleged that it is the figures given by these IOC’s and oil multinationals as the quantity of oil produced per day that is being depended on.

Watch complete interview for more details.

Fuel subsidy is a mega-fraud in Nigeria – Tam David West

Taking on the controversial probe into the nation’s oil sector led by Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, former Minister of Petroleum Professor Tam David West, on Sunrise Daily stated that, what the Federal Government is doing is a “charade because a government that deceives its citizens consistently is sad.”

The former Minister, who has always claimed that the nation’s fuel subsidy regime is nothing but fraud, again affirmed his position saying there is no fuel subsidy in Nigeria rather what exists is ‘fuel subsidy mega-fraud.’

He argued that his allegation has been proven by the recent controversies on investigations into the sector by the committees led by Farouk Lawan and Nuhu Ribadu.

Professor David-West also revealed that he has challenged the Federal Government for a public debate on the issue but he has never gotten a response to the offer.

The Federal Government on Thursday appointed another committee, made of serving Ministers to draft out a white paper from the controversial special task force report on the petroleum revenue submitted by the Ribadu committee.