British Police Investigating Shell And Eni Over Nigerian Oil Block Deal

July 26, 2013

British police are investigating a money-laundering allegation related to a big oil field bought by Shell and ENI from Nigeria for $1.3 billion (€984 million), after most of the cash they paid ended up in a company linked to a former Nigerian oil minister.

The probe concerns offshore block OPL 245, which industry sources say contains up to 9.23 billion barrels of crude – more than enough to keep China running for 2½ years – the ownership of which had been in dispute for more than a decade.

“The proceeds of crime unit is investigating a money-laundering allegation in the UK in connection with OPL 245. The investigation is at an early stage,” a UK spokesman said.

Transparency campaigners, who asked the UK to look into the matter, assert that Shell and ENI used the Nigerian government as a go-between to obscure the fact that they were dealing with former oil minister Dan Etete, who also has a 2007 money-laundering conviction in France related to bribes he was alleged to have taken when in government.

In his capacity as oil minister, Etete awarded block OPL 245 in 1998 for a payment of just $2 million to Malabu Oil and Gas, a company in which he played a prominent role.

Copyright, The Irish Times, 2013.