By Patience Danjuma
The Federal Government of Nigeria in London on Wednesday filed a $1.1 billion suit against Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Eni and other companies for a 2011 Malabu oil deal, arguing that the deal was fraught with corruption.
The money paid by the companies was reportedly used for bribes and kickbacks.
The oil field is already the subject of an ongoing trial in Milan, Italy, where prosecutors claim that bribes totalling $1.1 billion were paid.
A statement by the Federal Government issued on Thursday said, “It is alleged that purchase monies purportedly paid to the Federal Republic of Nigeria were in fact immediately paid through to a company controlled by Dan Etete, formerly the Nigerian minister of petroleum, and used for, amongst other things, bribes and kickbacks.
“Accordingly, it is alleged that Shell and Eni engaged in bribery and unlawful conspiracy to harm the Federal Republic of Nigeria and that they dishonestly assisted corrupt Nigerian government officials.”
According to the filing papers, the Federal Government said JP Morgan acted with gross negligence when it allowed funds paid for the oil field’s license be transferred to a company controlled by Dan Etete, a former Minister of Petroleum Resources.
“If the defendant acted with reasonable care and skill and/or conducted reasonable due diligence it would or should have known or at least suspected that it was being asked to transfer funds to third parties who were seeking to misappropriate the funds from the claimant and/or that there was a significant risk that this was the case,” the government statement further said.
The ongoing trial in Milan has already found two middlemen guilty for their complicity in a bribery scandal with regards to the deal.
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