Etete, Adoke, Others Charged For Fraud In Malabu Oil Deal

Etete, Adoke, Others Charged For Fraud In Malabu Oil Deal

Following months of investigation, the federal government tuesday finally filed a nine-count charge against a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Chief Dan Etete, the Chairman A.A. Oil, Alhaji Aliyu Abubakar, former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister for Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN) and six companies for their alleged complicity in the payment of $400 million to Malabu Oil and Gas from a Nigerian escrow account with JP Morgan Chase Bank in London.

The money was said to have been paid into Malabu’s account in the defunct Bank PHB Plc, now Keystone Bank Limited.

The offence was said to have been committed on or about 24 August 2011.

The six companies charged alongside Etete, Adoke and Abubakar are Malabu Oil and Gas Limited, Rocky Top Resource Nig. Ltd, Imperial Union Limited, Novel Property and Development Co. Limited, Group Construction Limited, and Megatech Engineering Limited.

They were said to have committed an offence contrary to section 15(2) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011.

In count two, Etete and Malabu Oil were accused of taking control of $401.54 million paid from the federal government escrow account with JP Morgan Chase Bank in London into the account of Malabu Oil in First Bank of Nigeria Limited, when they knew the money formed part of proceeds of unlawful activity to wit: fraud and thereby committed an offence under Section 15(2) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act of 2011 and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.

The fraud charges are in relation to Oil Prospecting Lease (OPL) 245, a deep water oil block which was awarded to Malabu Oil and Gas Limited belonging to Dan Etete when he was the petroleum minister between 1994 and 1998 under the Sani Abacha military regime.

However, after the award of the oil block and Abacha’s death, a protracted legal dispute arose between Shell and Malabu over the ownership of the oil asset believed to hold several hundreds of millions in oil reserves.
The dispute was not eventually settled till 2011, when the Goodluck Jonathan administration mediated and asked the parties to reach an out-of-court settlement over the ownership of the oil block.

On this basis, Shell, Agip and Total paid $1.092 billion into a designated escrow account to farm into the oil block. Of the $1.092 billion, it is believed that about $600 million was paid to Etete by the federal government, raising eyebrows about the propriety of the transaction.
While Etete has remained silent over his involvement in the oil deal, Adoke has vehemently denied any wrongdoing and last week wrote a letter to his successor in the justice ministry, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), absolving himself of complicity in the transaction.


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