Monday, June 21, 2021

    Malabu : Italian court shifts corruption case against ENI, Shell

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    Gbenga Samson
    Samson Gbenga Salau [Editorial Board Adviser] Gbenga Samuel Salau is a professional journalist with over 17 years experience in journalism, he is a graduate of Communication and Language Arts, University of Ibadan. On completion of his youth service, he joined The Guardian as a freelance journalist and was later absorbed as a staff. While in the University, he was a campus journalist reporting for the Independence Hall and Faculty of Arts Press Clubs. As a campus journalist, he won the following awards; Independence Hall Press Best News writer; University of Ibadan Union of Campus Journalists’ Best News Reporter/Writer; First Runner-up, Reuben Abati Award for Investigative Journalism; Association of Faculty of Arts Students’ Press Best Reporter; University of Ibadan Union of Campus Journalists’ Best Political Writer; Winner, Reuben Abati Award for Investigative Journalism, and University of Ibadan Union of Campus Journalists’ Best Interviewer. He served the Association of Communication and Language Arts Students, as the Public Relation Officer, the same year he was appointed the News Editor of the Association of Faculty of Arts Students Press. The following session, he was made the General Editor, and a member of the 13-man University of Ibadan Students’ Union Transition Committee. As a reporter in The Guardian, in 2014, he won the Promasidor Quill Award Best Report on Nutrition and DAME Business Reporting category. In the 2015 edition of the Promasidor Quill Award, he won the best Report on Nutrition and Brand Advocate Categories, while in 2016, he won the NMMA Print Journalist of the Year, first runner-up Golden Pen Reporter of the Year and SERAs CSR Awards. Gbenga Salau loves traveling, reading, and listening to songs with good lyrics no matter the genre.

    The italian court on Monday postponed the corruption case in an involving executives of oil giants (ENI and Shell) and Nigeria’s ex-oil minister Dan Etete to June 2018.The oil scam which is described as one of the largest corruption scandals ever witnessed in the global oil industry.
    An Italian court in the city of Milan on Monday postponed the case after the judge in the preliminary hearing forgot to read a page of the charges against Shell, leading to shell lawyers calling for a restart.
    Eni’s current CEO Claudio Descalzi, former CEO Paolo Scaroni, and Chief Operations and Technology Officer Roberto Casula are standing trial alongside four former Royal Dutch Shell staff members including former executive director for Shell’s Upstream International operations Malcolm Brinded and two former MI6 agents Guy Colegate, a business adviser; and John Copleston, a strategic investment adviser employed by Shell for paying millions of dollars in bribes in order to acquire a lucrative oil exploration and drilling license in an oil block, which is said to have about 9 billion barrels of crude oil.
    The deal was struck only five days after the company was incorporated with three shareholders; Mohammed Sani Abacha , Kweku Amafagha (a fake name allegedly created by Etete) and Hassan Hindu (wife of a former Nigerian High Commissioner to the UK) as Etete illegally awarded himself the oil block and paid only $2 million out of the $20 million legally required by the state.
    The trial was originally scheduled for March 2018 but was postponed to May 2018. It all started in 2011 when Shell and Eni reportedly transferred $1.3 billion into a Nigerian government bank account. The two companies wanted to secure the rights to an oil field called OPL245, which according to estimates by the oil companies was worth $3 billion. However, the majority of the payments did not end up in the Nigerian treasury but went to a company called Malabu Oil & Gas, which was controlled by then oil minister Etete.
    For years, Shell had claimed that it only paid the Nigerian Government for the OPL 245 oil block. But after the joint investigations of Global Witness and UK investigative journalism group Finance Uncovered, Shell confessed it had dealt with convicted money launderer and former oil minister Dan Etete. Etete had awarded the OPL 245 oil block to his secretly owned company, Malabu, while serving as Oil Minister.
    The accusations are that $520 million of the purchase price was converted into cash and paid to politicians as bribes. Former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan also alleged to have profited from the cash. Only $210 million is said to have reached Nigeria’s treasury.
    The Nigerian government already declared in a lawsuit in England that the 2011 purchase of the production license for the huge oil field was unlawful.
    Shell, Eni and their executives have denied all charges. In 2007, Etete was convicted of illegal financial transactions in France. Though he is also supposed to stand trial in Milan, HEDA’s spokesperson, Lanre Suraju, stated that Etete has disappeared.
    Milan is not the only place where court proceedings are taking place, also an environmental right group, Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA) is asking a federal high court in Lagos to withdraw the operational licence of Shell and ENI.
    The case is also being investigated by public prosecutors in United States and Netherlands.

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