Six years after, British oil giant, Shell has told a US court that it was aware that part of the $1.1 billion paid to acquire one of the largest oil wells in Africa, OPL 245 was meant to facilitate the oil deal. It would be recalled that Shell had previously denied knowledge of bribery, insisting that they had paid to an account of the Federal government of Nigeria with J.P.Morgan paid the money to acquire the license officially. The volteface has sparked a fresh investigation into a deal pointing to the allegation that former president Goodluck Jonathan may have a $200 million bribe.
Following the lead, the House of Representatives House Committee on Justice has hinted that it has set in motion the process of summoning former President Goodluck Jonathan to explain his role in the controversial award of OPL 245 oil block license in which he alleged receive about $200 million from Shell and ENI as a signature bonus.
Reports have it that most of the $1.1 billion eventually ended up in private accounts with about $801million directly going into the account of Dan Etete, a former petroleum minister who was convicted of money laundering in France. A large part of that sum is believed to have gone to Mr. Jonathan and officials that served under him including Mohammed Adoke, the then attorney general.
Earlier, Italian court documents obtained by BuzzFeed and Italian business newspaper, Il Sole 24 Ore, had revealed how Italian prosecutors quoted Ednan Agaev, a Russian middleman who helped negotiate the transfer of the oil block to Shell and Eni, as saying that Dan Etete, the former Petroleum Minister at the heart of the oil scandal, said he intended to dole out as much as $400 million in bribes if the deal went through.
If Mr. Etete actually paid out such an amount in bribes to Nigerian officials, “Agaev stated that he would think President Goodluck Jonathan got at least $200 million of this money,” BuzzFeed quoted an excerpt of FBI submissions to Italian authorities as saying.
The revelations were made when the FBI interviewed Mr. Agaev, whom prosecutors also said met with Mr. Jonathan on more than one occasion in Nigeria during the OPL 245 negotiations.
Mr. Agaev, who was Mr. Etete’s representative in the negotiation, said the convicted former petroleum minister told him of the $400 million bribe to Nigerian politicians when he approached him for his payment. The Russian also repeated the claim in a follow-up interview with Italian prosecutors, led by Fabio De Pasquale in Milan.
While Mr. Jonathan and officials that served under him continue to deny any wrongdoing, Shell, the global oil firm that desperately wanted control of the OPL 245, on Monday admitted it knew the $1.1 billion it paid alongside ENI for the block would be used as kickback for an ex-convict and former petroleum minister, Dan Etete.