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Malabu oil block deal: How Jonathan’s aides shared N176bn largesse

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By Aminu Imam

President Goodluck Jonathan’s associates, including ministers, have been named in a $1.1 billion (N176 bn) laundering scandal involving oil multinationals over the control of a deepwater oil block that could contain up to 1 billion barrels of oil.
Document s pertaining to the clandestine deal, obtained by Peoples Daily, revealed that the N176 billion secretly paid to a company run by a former oil minister, Dan Etete, by the Federal Government, on the orders of President Goodluck Jonathan, was actually a slush fund, with a huge chunk of it ending up in bank accounts of cronies and business associates of government officials and, at least one individual with links to Jonathan.
Dan Etete, it is recalled, was convicted of money laundering in France in 2007.
The current Justice Minister and Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Mr. Adoke and the Minister of State for Finance, Alhaji Yerima Ngama, named in that deal too, allegedly played a major role in the sharing of the money.
The documents revealed how the ministers in April, 2011 brokered the agreement to sell controversial oil block 245 to Shell and pay Malabu Oil and Gas from the proceeds.
According to a resolution agreement reached in April between the Federal Government and Malabu, the former agreed to pay Malabu $1.1 billion in full settlement of its claim to the oil block, provided the company discontinued all pending suits in the matter.
The document also showed that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had indeed investigated the deal, concluding that the transaction pointed at a “cloudy scene associated with fraudulent dealings.”
The EFCC investigation also clearly established that Mr. Etete’s Malabu only served as a money laundering machine, as substantial parts of the funds was later transferred to various accounts owned by “real and artificial persons” suspected to have links with the presidency and other government officials.
The investigation also indicates that in order to cover up the corruption, the presidency tapped the Minister of State for Finance and Attorney-General to hurriedly transfer the funds to Mr. Etete on August 16, 2011, a day before the Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, assumed office.
Yerima Ngama, was not available to comment on his knowledge of the transaction. However, spokesperson of the finance minister, Paul Nwabuikwu, said he was away in on an official engagement.
Peoples Daily  had on Tuesday reported how the Nigerian subsidiaries of two multinational oil companies Nigeria Agip Exploration Limited (Agip) and Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Limited (Shell) paid $1.1billion (N155billion) to the Federal Government in April last year for onward transmission to Malabu Oil whose principal is Mr. Etete.
At the heart of this brazen theft of public funds is someone named Abubakar  Aliyu whom top Presidency and EFCC sources described as “Mr. Corruption” and who has very close business ties with Diepreiye Alamesieyegha, convicted former governor of Bayelsa state and whom Jonathan succeeded in office after the former was impeached over corruption charges.
According to the documents, Aliyu, through companies co-owned by him, received direct payments of $523m (N81bn) from the largesse. Investigators believe that the businessman, introduced to the President by Alamieyeseigha, was Jonathan’s front in the transaction.
The document further revealed that on August 16, 2011, Mr. Adoke and Yerima Ngama, coordinated the payment of a first tranche of $401.5million (N60billion) into a First Bank account 2018288005 belonging to Malabu.
Another $400millionn (N60billion) was, based on the duo’s instructions, transferred into a Malabu Bank PHB (now Keystone bank) account 3610042472 from a Nigerian government account with JP Morgan International Bank.
The balance of the fund was reportedly lodged into Etete’s account with Zenith Bank.
Peoples Daily learnt that soon after Malabu received the money, the distribution began. Rocky Top Resources Limited, co-owned by Aliyu, received $336 million (N50bn) from Malabu’s Keystone Bank deposit.
Other companies that got money from the Malabu transfers included A-Group Construction Company, also co-owned by Aliyu. It received $157mn (N24bn), while Novel Property and Development Limited, also co-owned by Aliyu got $30 million (N4.5bn).
Companies not linked to Aliyu but got money from Malabu included Mega Tech Engr Co. Ltd, which received $180 million (N27bn) and Imperial Union Limited, $34million (N5.1bn).
Sources said those companies, like Aliyu’s, simply acted as fronts for political office holders, who helped to facilitate the transfers, as they have no basis to receive such huge sums of money from Malabu. The EFCC has also not identified what tasks these companies performed to deserve the payments.
“Reasons for this payment are yet to be ascertained,” the commission said.
Long before the largesse was shared, however, Malabu had become a company renowned for shady deals.
According to investigators, through “conspiracy, forgery, forged document, criminal misappropriation and money laundering,” Etete and Malabu Oil had been involved in illegalities since its formation.
Formed on April 24, 1998, Malabu Oil had three shareholders: Mohammed Sani (Abacha, son of late military head of State Sani Abacha), Kweku Amafagha (who was representing Dan Etete on the board), and Hassan Hindu (representing her husband, Hassan Lawal, a former Nigerian High Commissioner to the UK).
Sani allegedly owned 10 million of the 20 million shares in the company, Etete six million and Hassan, four million.
Presidential spokesman, Mr. Reuben Abati could not be reached last night for comments.
Meanwhile, a panel set up to investigate the round-tripping deal by the Senate President, David Mark , on Tuesday with its work and it is not known when it will complete the assignment.

Comments (2)Add Comment
written by usman ceceko, May 25, 2012
nothing good will come out from investigation
written by Abdullah Musa, May 25, 2012
Their Nigeria! The question is: where is ours?

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