Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Corrupt firms looted billions of dollars from Nigeria in Malabu oil deal

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The chief prosecutor at the ongoing trial of criminal suspects
associated with the controversial Malabu oil deal, Francesco Greco,
opened up a can of worms this week when he blasted corporate
organizations including those in Nigeria of investing in corruption to
cripple the local economy, fueling poverty and chaos.

Said Greco, “In Milan, we are full of proceedings for international
corruption and we see the negative effects, both against the victim
states and against our companies that instead of investing in
innovation, invest in bribes”.

Many see the prosecutor’s statement as an open indictment of the oil
companies involved in the Malabu oil deal.

Greco who spoke in Milan at the presentation of the 2018 social
responsibility balance sheet of the judicial offices of the Lombard
capital said corrupt corporate organizations now invest heavily in
corruption in order to cover up their ugly tracks.

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Greco is leading the prosecution of Shell and Eni, the two oil giants
said to have played leading roles in the fleecing of Nigeria billions
of dollars in the Mabalu OPL 25 deal.

The prosecutor said, “Companies invest more in bribes than innovation”
exposing what he called the ‘occult contract’ that binds corrupt
representatives of governments and managers of international
companies. The radical statement of the prosecutor has been received
by several anti-corruption groups across the world.

“At an international level, colonialism has been gradually replaced by
the corruption that has supported corrupt and dictatorial regimes,
plundering the resources of countries for a few pennies at the expense
of the democratic, economic and social development of entire
populations maintained at the level of poverty and forced to emigrate
by hunger.”

Reacting to Greco’s statement, the Chairman of the Human and
Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA Resource Centre), Olanrewaju
Suraju, the Nigerian anti-corruption group pushing the prosecution of
the suspects in the grand crime said the position of the prosecutor
exposed the “ignoble chain of corruption and the global conspiracy of
local and international officials whose shameful conducts continues to
keep Nigerians at the backbench of economic and industrial
transformation”.

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According to him, the prosecutor has once again proven that criminals
will no longer have safe havens to warehouse their looted funds.

Foreign anti-corruption experts currently in Nigeria, Antonio
Tricarico and Nick Hildyard, have praised the prosecutor for saying it
as it is.

The two are currently in Nigeria training selected community-based
organizations, journalists and representatives of anti-corruption
agencies on strategies for tracing illicit funds and assets.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo had revoked the OPL 245, granted by
late dictator, Sanni Abacha to Dan Etete, former Nigerian Petroleum.

Etete had reassigned it to Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production
Company which he later reclaimed through Etete’s Malabu Oil and Gas,
in 2006 through the court.

Shell rejected the decision, but the Government of former President
Goodluck Jonathan ensured Shell and Eni bought the OPL 245 in the
paltry sum of $1.1billion, ultimately diverted into private pockets.

The EFCC investigation had held many Nigerian top shots for complicity
in corruption and double-dealing in the implementation of the
settlement and resolution of agreements on OPL 245 between Malabu Oil
and Gas Ltd, belonging to Etete and the federal government of Nigeria
in 2010.

EFCC’s investigations indicated that over $1.2 billion was laundered
in a series of criminal plots involving corruption and bribery all of
which are linked to Malabu, Shell Nigeria Ultra deep (SNUD) Nigeria
Agip Exploration (NAE) and other Nigerian officials.

The investigation and prosecution were launched in Italy, where Shell,
ENI and some Nigerian officials and their foreign collaborators are
facing criminal charges.

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