Malabu scandal: Ex- FBI agent accuses former Nigeria’s Attorney general of collecting US$10bn - BUSINESSDAY
by DIPO OLADEHINDE
In a court sitting in the city of Milan Italy, Debra LaPrevotte retired lead agent at U.S Federal Bureau Of Investigation (FBI) have accuse former Nigerian Attorney General Bayo Ojo and a London based Arcadia Petroleum limited of bribery in the controversial sale of the most prolific oil field in Africa worth about $1.3 billion.
Debra LaPrevotte told judges on Wednesday of how an investigation carried out by the bureau showed $801 million from the OPL 245 deal flowed from JP Morgan in London through Nigerian bank accounts and into companies owned by Aliyu Abubakar popularly known as ‘AAA Oil’, a person reported to be connected to members of the former president Jonathan administration.
Debra LaPrevotte narrated to the court how Bayo Ojo, a former Nigerian Attorney General under President Goodluck Jonathan received $10 million and how over $10 million was sent to London based Arcadia Petroleum limited and $5 million to their former CEO who was being sued by the companies’ owners for alleged embezzlement.
Arcadia Petroleum limited is an independent trading company was founded by Japan’s Mitsui & Co Ltd in 1998 and has trading desks in the United States, Britain, Switzerland, UAE, Singapore and Australia. The Company offers products such as gasoline, gasoil, kerosene, fuel oil, and liquefied petroleum gas, as well as operates a fleet of long term charter vessels, according to its website.
It was once one of the top buyers of Nigerian oil, which were known collectively as the “magnificent seven”, but it did not appear on the official list of buyers of the OPEC member’s crude for 2011 to 2012.
Debra LaPrevotte told the court how a Russian Ednan Agaev hired by Dan Etete to find a buyer for the oil block, agreed to a voluntary interview as more testimonies revealed millions of dollars went to a Brazilian luxury property developer, Nigerian Interior Design Company and $1.6m was spent on one vehicle at a Dubai car sales company.
LaPrevotte further recounted how the FBI tracked down the purchase of an aircraft worth over $50 million from a US firm and Cadillac Escalades a full size SUV engineered and manufactured by Cadillac Motor car Division a subsidiary of U.S based General motors’ bought in Texas through a broker.
During the trial, there were also questions from ENI and Casula’s lawyers on the actions and funding of The Sentry an Non Governmental Organization (NGO) connected to the case that LaPrevotte now works for, the trial Judge replied “..the funders are public…..”.
Also, lawyer to Dan Etete, a convicted criminal who was Nigeria’s petroleum minister from 1995 to 1998 asked whether Malabu was under investigation; the trial judge replied “..no just the money not individuals….”
After much cross examinations, from both ENI and Dan Etete’s lawyers the senior judges adjourned hearing till next week 17th of October.
The Malabu oil scam, which has been under investigation for over four years, relates to the billions of dollars paid by oil giants, Shell and ENI, into a Federal Government account, for OPL 245, considered the richest oil block in Africa.
OPL 245 is perhaps, the most talked-about asset in Nigeria’s oil industry. It covers 1958 square kilometers and holds over 9 billion barrels of crude oil, equivalent to nearly one quarter of Nigeria’s total proven reserves. Experts claim that the deposit can power the whole of Africa for twenty years.