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Shell and Eni in Trouble over Violation of UK Laws in Malabu Oil Deal

By on November 13, 2012

Convicted Money Launderer, Dan Etete of Malabu Oil

Royal Dutch Shell and Eni may be in trouble with British law enforcement over a $1.1 billion Nigerian offshore oil block the companies bought last year.

The OPL 245 block was the asset fraudulently acquired by Dan Etete, former Minister of Petroleum under the Abacha regime. He was convicted for money laundering in France in 2007.

The oil block holds an estimated 9 billion barrels of crude oil.

The oil companies are said to have known that the Nigerian government was only standing as an intermediary in the deal for Dan Etete.

“If … Shell and ENI knew that the ultimate destination of the funds would be Malabu and Etete, then this transaction might well fall foul of anti-bribery legislation in the U.K.,” Global Witness, which campaigns against natural resource-related conflict, corruption and associated abuse, said in a report.

“A substantial monetary ‘reward’ ended up being paid to a company controlled by an individual who had arguably abused his public position,” the report added.

According to Reuters Global Witness said a consultant central to the Malabu deal submitted a sworn affidavit to a U.S. court, which described direct negotiations between Shell, Eni and Malabu.

The Italian oil company said in a statement on Monday: “Eni or any of its affiliates have not entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with Malabu.”

“The payments … have been made to the Federal Government. Such payments were made in a transparent manner.”