Monday, April 10, 2017

Shell and Corruption in Nigeria

OPL 245 is an oilfield off the coast of Nigeria whose estimated nine billion barrels of oil are worth nearly half a trillion dollars at today's prices. Shell has been active in Nigeria for nearly 60 years and was keen to acquire the field. New evidence shows just how far Shell was prepared to go to get its hands on it.
Standing between Shell and its prize was Dan Etete, whose company acquired the rights to OPL 245 for a tiny sum while he was oil minister of Nigeria. He was later convicted of money laundering in a different case.
Shell and the Italian oil company ENI eventually acquired OPL 245 in 2011 - by paying $1.3bn to the Nigerian government. That's more than the entire health budget of Nigeria but it didn't get spent on public services. The government promptly passed on more than $1bn of the money to a company called Malabu, which was controlled by Dan Etete.

In an email from July, Shell says Etete's negotiating strategy is "clearly an attempt to deliver significant revenues to GLJ [Goodluck Jonathan] as part of any transaction."
Italian prosecutors allege that $466m were laundered through a network of Nigerian bureaux de change to facilitate payments to President Jonathan and other politicians.
It should be remembered that this deal was concluded just months after Shell had paid $30m to settle previous allegations of bribery in Nigeria and elsewhere.
As part of a deal to spare the company a damaging criminal conviction in that case, Shell agreed to what was, in effect, a probation order, by giving an undertaking to the US Department of Justice to tighten up its internal controls in order to stay in compliance with America's tough anti-corruption laws.The question for Shell is what on earth were they doing negotiating with a convicted money launderer, who they suspected might pass the money to the president, months after reaching a previous bribery settlement in the same country.Matthew Page worked for the US State Department in Nigeria for 15 years. He told the BBC: "At a time when Shell should have been cautious having just settled a previous case, rather than walk away from a deal with clear corruption risks, they doubled down."

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