Malabu $1.1 billion Scandal: Ex-Nigerian oil minister, 12 others set for trial in Italy

A week after he was charged by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in Abuja, Italian authorities have indicated their intention to file criminal charges against a former Minister of Petroleum, Dan Etete, for his involvement in the $1.1 billion Malabu oil deal.

The prosecutors filed the notice in a Milan court last week, PREMIUM TIMES can report.

The EFCC slammed a seven-count charge of money laundering and fraud on Mr. Etete and others on December 20 at the Federal High Court, Abuja.

Apart from Mr. Etete, another Nigerian identified as Chukwuemeka Obi, is also among the 11 individuals to be charged by the Italian authorities. Shell and Eni are also to be sued, indicating a total of 13 defendants.

Mr. Obi and his firm, EVP, had laid claim to about $110 million of the $1.1 billion paid by Shell and Eni for OPL 245, considered Nigeria’s richest oil block.

The money is currently trapped in Switzerland where it has been frozen by a court.

Mr. Obi sued Malabu for the $110 million in London which he said was his entitlement for helping to facilitate the deal between the oil majors and Malabu.

In July 2013, the High Court of Justice, Queen’s Bench Division presided by Lady Justice Gloster ruled in favour of Mr. Obi that he was entitled to “a fee of 8.5% of the total disposal consideration of $1.3 billion.”

Following the court’s ruling, the money was transferred to EVP’s Swiss accounts. However, Italian authorities who had by then started investigating the fraudulent deal asked Swiss authorities to freeze the money where it has since remained.

Others found culpable by Italian authorities include: DescaJzi Claudio, the CEO of Eni; his predecessor, Paolo Scaroni; Roberto Casula, Armanna Vincenzo, Antonio Pagano, Ednan Agaev, Luigi Bisignani and Falcioni Gianfranco.

Italian prosecutors are also charging Eni and Royal Dutch Shell for their involvement in the deal as multinational firms.

As part of their findings, Italian prosecutors said officials of Italian oil giant, Eni, may have received $50 million bribe from the $1.1 billion the company and Shell paid into a Nigerian government account in 2011.

Source

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