Goodluck Jonathan named in Italian bribery probe

Italian prosecutors have alleged that Nigeria ’s former president Goodluck Jonathan and his oil
minister received kickbacks as part of a $1 . 3 bn deal involving oil giants ENI and Shell.

Court documents filed late last month in the city of Milan and seen by AFP outline a case against 11 people , including senior executives from the two oil majors
and the companies themselves.

Jonathan , who left office in May 2015 , and Diezani Alison -Madueke , his long -time petroleum minister who was also the first woman
president of OPEC, do not feature on the list.

But they are alleged to have
played a central role in the deal, which saw ENI and Shell make a $ 1 . 3 billion payment in 2011 for an offshore oil block in Nigeria.

No formal charges have been
brought and the parties usually have 20 days to respond to the conclusion of the preliminary investigation report before any formal prosecution.

ENI chief executive Claudio
Descalzi and his predecessor Paolo Scaroni met Jonathan “in person” to thrash out the deal , which also involved former British intelligence agents working as advisors for Shell , it was alleged.

Prosecutors allege ENI and Shell executives worked with Nigerian businessman Dan Etete , who was oil minister under the military ruler Sani Abacha from 1995 to 1998.

Etete ’s company Malabu was the “fraudulent holder” of the OPL 245 block , according to the court documents.
After talks in Milan and Abuja , the block was bought illegally by the oil majors in contravention of
domestic laws , “without
competitive tendering ” and with “full , unconditional exemption from all national taxes ”, prosecutors said .
A total of $ 801 . 5 million was allegedly transferred to Etete ’s Malabu accounts, of which $ 466 million was converted into cash in
Nigeria and used for
remunerating government
officials , including Jonathan and Alison – Madueke, prosecutors said .
A further $ 54 million was
withdrawn by Abubakar Aliyu ,
whom prosecutors describe as an “agent ” of Jonathan.

The beneficiaries of the money went on a shopping spree buying “property , aeroplanes, armoured
cars ,” prosecutors added.
‘No basis ’ for prosecution ENI and Royal Dutch Shell have both denied wrongdoing.

Shell said in an email: “We are aware of the investigation and we hope to show the prosecutor that
there is no basis to prosecute Shell.“Shell takes this matter seriously and is co-operating with theauthorities. ”

Nigeria’s anti – corruption agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission ( EFCC) , has also
recently pressed charges in connection with the same oil block deal.

Charges were “filed towards the end of last year”, EFCC spokesman Wilson Uwujaren told AFP, without
elaborating. Anti -corruption campaigners view
the case as a classic example of
graft in Nigeria but also an
indication of the difficulty in
tackling the problem when it
crosses international borders.

Alison – Madueke is facing a flurry
of graft allegations in Nigeria and
was arrested by Britain’s National
Crime Agency on suspicion of
bribery and money laundering in
2015 .
She has denied the allegations .
Last week , the Federal High Court
in Lagos ordered Alison – Madueke
to temporary forfeit $ 153 million
that was allegedly syphoned from
state coffers .
For his part , Jonathan has denied
that his government was corrupt
and contested his successor
Muhammadu Buhari ’s claim that
he inherited a “virtually empty”
treasury .
Buhari secured a historic first win
for an opposition leader in
Nigeria ’s history when he defeated
Jonathan in presidential elections
in March 2015.
He campaigned on a platform to
target endemic corruption and has
said “mind- boggling ” sums of
money have been stolen from the
public purse.
His government has arrested a
series of high – ranking officials
from Jonathan ’s administration on
corruption charges but few have
been convicted.


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