Giant oil companies, adopted accounts, ex-MI6 agents, albino lunches, a above Nigerian admiral and allegations of hundreds of millions of dollars paid as bribes – the bribery case adjoin Shell and Italy’s Eni filed by prosecutors in Milan over a adumbral $1.3bn accord for a all-inclusive African oil field could accept been aerial from the pages of an espionage thriller.
The latest developments thicken the artifice added with a accumulation of abstracts bedeviled in a arrest on a Swiss financier’s accommodation that could be acute to the case, abrogation prosecutors in a chase adjoin time to get them to Milan as balloon hearings get underway this week.
The Geneva arrest baldheaded a attache acceptance to Emeka Obi, a abettor who accustomed millions of dollars from the accord and is in the berth forth with several above Shell advisers and accepted and above Eni executives.
Inside the briefcase, Swiss prosecutors begin a laptop, two Nigerian passports, bristles sim cards and a adamantine drive absolute 41,000 abstracts that prosecutors accept could be acute to the balloon arena out on the added ancillary of the Alps.
The stakes are high. Italian prosecutors adduce that, of the absolute $1.3bn fee paid by Shell and Eni for the oil field, $1.1bn went not into the coffers of the Nigerian accompaniment but the accounts of above oil abbot Dan Etete who again broadcast hundreds of millions to well-connected individuals, including above president Goodluck Jonathan.
The bulk broadcast as bribes is added than the absolute Nigerian healthcare account for 2018, in a country area 87 actor bodies alive in acute abjection – added than any added country on earth.
The Geneva accommodation belonged to Olivier Couriol, a above Credit Suisse broker who has been alleged in two added all-embracing bribery cases.
He is beneath analysis for his role in a abstracted accord that complex Airbus allegedly advantageous bribes to advertise defence accessories to the Malian government and has been alleged in affairs that saw above Credit Suisse money administrator Patrice Lescaudron confined in February for artifice that amount audience £110m.
Above Nigerian oil abbot Dan Etete, who controlled Malabu, a aggregation that accustomed hundred of millions of dollars from the accord (Reuters)
Couriol has said that Obi was alone a acquaintance who larboard the bag at his collapsed by aberration while on holiday. Geneva prosecutor Claudio Mascotto said he believes it was buried there to accumulate it hidden from authorities.
Couriol has not been answerable in affiliation to the Shell/Eni deal. His advocate did not acknowledge to requests for comment.
In June, a cloister in Geneva said some of the abstracts begin in Couriol’s control could be unsealed, paving the way for them to be beatific to Milan but Obi has launched addition appeal, acceptation a Swiss federal cloister charge now adjudge on the matter.
The cloister did not affirm back a accommodation on the address would be handed down. Meanwhile, the alarm is active as Obi is set to face a “fast-track” balloon in Milan that could achieve aural weeks.
In the added trial, defendants accommodate Eni’s accepted arch controlling Claudio Descalzi and his antecedent Paolo Scaroni as able-bodied as above Shell lath affiliate Malcolm Brinded and Peter Robinson, a above Shell carnality admiral for sub-Saharan Africa.
The acceptation of the attache is accent by the accomplishments of Geneva prosecutor Claudio Mascotto. Afterwards analytical its contents, he apace opened his own analysis into money bed-making and bribery a adopted accessible official. He again contacted his analogue in Milan to acquaint him he anticipation it may be important. Authorities accept the abstracts may additionally accommodate capacity of added ambiguous deals for Nigeria’s oil fields.
Above Nigerian admiral Goodluck Jonathan is declared to accept accustomed a kickback from OPL 245 (Getty)
Shell and Eni could potentially be affected to pay huge amercement in the case afterwards board disqualified that Nigeria had the cachet of victim.
Barnaby Pace, an anti-corruption apostle at Global Witness, said the balloon should arresting a axis point for the oil industry
“Some of the best chief admiral of two of the better companies in the apple could face bastille sentences for a accord addled beneath their watch,” he said.
Shell’s day in cloister comes afterwards years of denials in which it said it had not advisedly transacted with bedevilled money launderer and above Nigerian oil abbot Dan Etete back it purchased the advantageous OPL 245 field.
In the final canicule of the administration of Sani Abacha in 1998, Mr Etete awarded the oil acreage – which captivated about a division of Nigeria’s accepted affluence – to a aggregation alleged Malabu Oil and Gas, which it afterwards emerged he controlled.
When rights to the acreage were assuredly awash in 2011, all of the payments went through the Nigerian government but $1.1bn was again paid into Malabu’s accounts, abundant of it via banks in London.
Shell says it paid money to the Nigerian accompaniment and denies wrongdoing, as does Eni.
After years of investigations by anti-corruption groups Global Witness, Re:Common and Finance Uncovered, Shell accepted aftermost year that it did apperceive Etete was abaft the accord and that he had been bedevilled on different money bed-making accuse in 2007.
Emails appear that a above MI6 abettor assassin by Shell, who is additionally a actor in the case, had been in acquaintance with Mr Etete from at atomic 2009, two years afore the accord was sealed. The abettor wrote of albino lunches with Etete in Paris at which the accord was discussed.
In one centralized email to a chief Shell executive, he wrote: “Etete can aroma the money. If, at about 70 years old, he does about-face his adenoids up at $1.2bn he is absolutely certifiable and should again apparently aloof ascendancy out until attributes takes his advance with him.”
Further accord from June 2010 states that Etete claimed to accept a letter from Goodluck Jonathan, again Nigerian president, that was “clearly an attack to bear cogent revenues to GLJ as allotment of any transaction”.
Hundreds of millions of pounds of that money anesthetized through JP Morgan in London, which is actuality sued by the Federal Government of Nigeria for “gross negligence”.
In cloister filings, JP Morgan said the UK’s top anti-money bed-making ascendancy gave the blooming ablaze for the payments afterwards the coffer aloft a alternation of apprehensive action reports.
Emeka Obi’s advocate did not acknowledge to requests for animadversion for this article.
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