The PHOTO: Royal Dutch Shell in The Hague. File picture: Jerry Lampen/AFP
Lagos – Nigeria has filed criminal charges of corruption against oil multinationals Royal Dutch Shell and Eni over the $1.1 billion (R14.3 billion) sale of one of Africa’s richest oil blocks.
Both companies have denied any wrongdoing.
Charges filed at the High Court in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, allege the companies paid $801 million to former Oil Minister Dan Etete, former Justice Minister Mohammed Bello Adoke and businessman Aliyu Abubakar for the licence to OPL 245. Nigeria’s government got only $210 million from the deal.
“These charges show Nigeria’s intention to fight corruption by holding the powerful to account,” Simon Taylor of corruption watchdog Global Witness said on Saturday. “The days when oil companies could use their influence to keep back room deals with corrupt officials under wraps are over.”
He said the alleged bribes amounted to 80 percent of Nigeria’s 2015 health budget.
Nigerian High Court papers stamped last week name the accused as the Nigeria subsidiary of British-Dutch Shell and its ex-director Ralph Wetzels, Italy’s Eni, Eni’s Nigeria subsidiary Agip and directors Roberto Casula, Stefano Pujatti and Sebastiano Burrafato.
Also charged is Malabu Oil, the company Etete set up secretly and awarded OPL 245 while he was oil minister.
Etete, Adoke and Abubakar, all believed to be living in Europe, could not be reached for comment.
The charges were laid by Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, which in January won a court order ceding control of the oil bloc to the government.
The commission also has filed new money-laundering charges against Adoke, alleging he corruptly received an additional $2.2 million in 2013 as payment for brokering the deal.