Premium Times - Former President Goodluck Jonathan probably received as much as $200 million to approve the controversial $1.3 billion sale of OPL 245 oil field, Italian prosecutors said in court documents.
The documents, which were extracts of a thorough investigation by Italian authorities into the deal, also confirmed that Shell and ENI knew a good chunk of the $1.3 billion would be disbursed as kickbacks to Nigerian politicians, yet went ahead with the deal.
The findings were obtained by BuzzFeed and Italian business newspaper, Il Sole 24 Ore. BuzzFeed released its own version earlier today.
The prosecutors quoted Ednan Agaev, 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.
If Mr. Etete actually paid out such an amount in bribes to Nigerian officials, “Agaev stated that he would think President Goodluck Jonathan got at least $200 million of this money,” BuzzFeed quoted an excerpt of FBI submissions to Italian authorities as saying.
The revelations were made when the FBI interviewed Mr. Agaev, whom prosecutors also said met with Mr. Jonathan on more than one occasion in Nigeria during the OPL 245 negotiations.
Mr. Agaev, who was Mr. Etete’s representative in the negotiation, said the convicted former petroleum minister told him of the $400 million bribe to Nigerian politicians when he approached him for his payment.
When FBI detectives asked Mr. Agaev about payment of his commission, he “stated that he went to Etete and told him to pay him the $65,000,000 fee. Agaev stated that Etete said, ‘I can’t pay you, I have to pay Adoke [Mohammed Bello Adoke, then Nigeria’s attorney general] $400 million and all the other people in the Senate and the National assembly.”
The Russian also repeated the claim in a follow-up interview with Italian prosecutors, led by Fabio De Pasquale in Milan.
“I said that if it’s true, that he paid, he had to pay 400 million, I assume that at least 200 went to Goodluck (Jonathan).”
“I heard from Chief (Etete), he claims that he had to pay 400 million, so, if this is true, if he paid 400 million, then most probably the President, as the biggest boss, took at least the half of it,” BuzzFeed wrote, quoting documents prepared by Italian prosecutors.
The findings, which included internal emails and phone conversations of Shell’s officials and agents, also revealed how Mr. Etete’s wife allegedly stated that her husband was getting only a part of the total sum paid by Shell.
“The rest goes in paying people off,” BuzzFeed reported.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how Mr. Etete, who alongside Mr. Adoke has since been charged by the EFCC for his role in the scandal, told a British Court that only $250 million of the $801 million he received from the Malabu payment was his. Others are believed to have been shared to politically exposed persons including Messrs. Adoke and Jonathan.
The findings reported on Sunday are the latest revelations about the controversial deal, which was struck in 2011. The $1.3 billion was paid by Shell and Eni into a Nigerian government account in London, with $1.1 billion transferred in addition to an earlier $201 million earlier paid by Shell to the Nigerian government. About $801 million of the money was then transferred from the Nigerian government account into Malabu accounts controlled by Mr. Etete.
JONATHAN, ADOKE MAINTAIN INNOCENCE
Despite the fact that their names have repeatedly featured in different investigations across many jurisdictions, Messrs. Jonathan and Adoke have denied any wrongdoing.
Instead, they said they helped Nigeria wave huge losses that the country would have otherwise suffered had the deal not been signed at the time.
Mr. Jonathan’s spokesperson, Ikechukwu Eze, could not be reached for comments about the latest revelations Sunday morning. But he exonerated the former president in a January 10 statement about the Malabu oil deal.
“We wish to make it clear that former President Jonathan was not accused, indicted or charged for corruptly collecting any monies as kickbacks or bribes from ENI by the Italian authorities or any other law enforcement body the world over,” the statement said.
Mr. Adoke had repeatedly stated that he didn’t do anything wrong in allowing the Nigerian government to proceed with the controversial deal as the Attorney-General of the Federation.
Last month, Mr. Adoke accused the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission of being used by political interests, after the anti-graft agency slammed charges of corruption and money laundering against him in connection with the OPL 245 scandal.
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