Italian prosecutors have disclosed that former President Goodluck Jonathan and Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, who served under his administration as Minister of Petroleum Resources, among those who received kickbacks in the controversial $1.3bn oil block deal involving oil giants ENI and Royal Dutch Shell.
According to documents filed late December 2016 in Milan, the Italian prosecutors claims that the Chief Executive of ENI, 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.
They alleged that Jonathan and Diezani benefitted from a sum of $466m converted into naira and used to bribe some Nigerian government officials to facilitate the alleged shady deal.
The prosecutors also alleged that another sum of $54m was withdrawn by one Abubakar Aliyu, whom the prosecutors described as an “agent” of Jonathan.
The Italian prosecutors went further to claim that ENI and Shell executives worked with a Nigerian businessman, Dan Etete, who was an “oil minister under the military ruler, Sani Abacha, from 1995 to 1998.”
Etete’s company, Malabu was the alleged “fraudulent holder” of the OPL 245 block, according to the court documents presented by the Italian prosecutors.
It was also gathered that a total sum of $801.5m was allegedly transferred to Etete’s Malabu accounts, out of which $466m was converted into naira and used for greasing the palms of government officials, including Jonathan and Diezani in order to facilitate the alleged shady deal.
However, ENI and Shell have both denied wrongdoing in the transaction.
In an email to AFP, Shell, said, “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 the authorities.”
Meanwhile, the Federal High Court in Lagos had last Friday ordered three banks to temporary forfeit a sum of $153m, which Diezani allegedly siphoned from the coffers of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
Jonathan on the other hand has denied that his government was corrupt and contested that the claim by his successor, President Muhammadu Buhari, that he left “virtually empty” treasury.