Leadership (Abuja)

10 December 2012

Nigeria: Malabu Deal - Etete Forged Documents to Claim U.S.$1.1 Billion - EFCC

An interim report by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on the contentious sale of Oil Prospective Licence (OPL) 245 has revealed that the Dan Etete-led faction of Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd might have forged company documents to obtain $1.1 billion payments for the oil block.

Acting on a February 2012 petition submitted by Mohammed Abacha, son of former head of state, late General Sani Abacha, which bordered on allegations of conspiracy, forgery and tendering of forged documents for the purpose of misappropriating the funds of Malabu Oil and Gas by Chief Etete, the EFCC interim report obtained by LEADERSHIP revealed "suspicious variance strongly indicative of forgery of the documents" by the latter.

Abacha, who holds shareholding interest in Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd, is claiming 70 per cent shares of the proceeds of compensation for OPL 245.

The interim report issued by the EFCC chairman, Ibrahim Larmode, stated that the findings were obtained through covert investigation after the receipt of Abacha's petition.

"Analysis and comparison of the obtained incorporation documents from the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and those submitted by the petitioner (Abacha) show a suspicious variance strongly indicative of forgery of the documents submitted to the CAC," he said.

Larmode further noted that EFCC's investigation into the case was not yet concluded and that any position paper from the commission at this stage would be prejudicial to its ongoing investigation.

Abacha, while testifying before the Leo Ogor-led House of Representatives investigative probe of the contentious OPL 245, expressed regret that while moves were ongoing to find an amicable solution to the situation, a settlement agreement was executed between the federal government, Etete and Shell/Agip, precluding the 70 per cent shareholders.

"This plan was exposed by one Ednan Agvaev in an affidavit sworn to before the Supreme Court of New York. The attorney-general chose to deal with the minority shareholders," Abacha said.

Part of Abacha's prayers to the House committee are:

"To direct the nullification of the surrender of OPL 245 to the Federal Government of Nigeria as it was done without the knowledge and consent of the 70 percent shareholders of Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd."

"That all the criminal activities involving the transactions relating to the re-award of OPL 245 to a foreign company in contravention of our laws and presidential approval be investigated and anybody find liable be prosecuted. And that the interest of the true owners on the OPL 245 be recognised.

"That CAC should be directed to appropriately amend their records to recognise the original and true owners and shareholding structures in Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd before the forgery.

"To recover the entire $1.3billion paid and to distribute it equitably to the rightful owners of Malabu Oil and Gas Limited including the 70 percent shareholders as their compensation.

Proceeds from OPL sales, officially termed signature bonuses, are expected to be remitted to the federation account, payments the panel is moving to verify.

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