Nigeria's foremost Online Energy News Platform

OPL 245: Anti-corruption crusaders want EFCC to seize Etete’s $56m jet

Anti-corruption crusaders have urged the Economic and Financial Crimes’ Commission, EFCC, to seize former Nigerian minister of petroleum, Dan Etete’s $56 million private jets over his connection to the $1.1 billion oil scam deal relating to the sale of OPL 245.

In a joint petition sent from Italy on Thursday, the crusaders called for retrieval of the jet by the Nigerian government.

The crusaders include the Chairman, Human Resource Development Centre (HEDA), Olanrewaju Suraju; Corner House Director, Nick Hildyard; Re: Common Director, Antonio Tricarico; and the Co-founder of Global witness, Simon Taylor. The anti-corruption crusaders attended court proceedings surrounding the controversial oil block in Milan recently.

According to them, the private jet was bought with illicit funds.

According to the petition addressed to the Acting Chairman of the EFCC by Mr. Suraju and other anti-corruption crusaders, they said their position was due to findings from the on-going international corruption case taking place in Milan.

Prosecutors in Milan were told by a former Federal Bureau of Investigation, (FBI) agent, Debra LaPrevotte and Ten. Col. Alessandro Ferri, both involved in the investigations of the case, that $56 million of proceeds of corruption was used by Mr. Etete for the purchase of a private jet with a tail registration number of M-MYNA, in Oklahoma City, USA.

“What we heard from testimony in the court, confirmed the information enclosed in a table produced by the FBI, and already disclosed as a public document in the court case, Crown vs Malabu Oil and Gas, which was held at Southwark Crown Court in London, UK; namely that proceeds of the OPL 245 deal were used to purchase a Bombardier Global 6000 private jet with the registration number M-MYNA,” they stated.

“This aircraft is listed as registered to Tibit Limited (BVI) and registered in the Isle of Man. The FBI table notes that the aircraft purchase was made from Insured Aircraft Title Services, Oklahoma City, US.

“We note that the company appeared in a 2010 investigation by the US Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs committee, Permanent Sub-Committee on Investigations, regarding their role in the purchase of aircraft by PEPs.”

The petitioners added that the individuals connected to Tibit Ltd, a BVI company involved in selling several Bombardier 6000 jets, have been the subject of a court case with the Australian Tax Office. They added that the report related to the Panama Papers has also raised questions about aircraft sales.

The petition stated that the aircraft’s most recent flight, according to public aircraft tracking websites, was from Paris to Dubai airport on the 7th June 2017. The aircraft appears to have remained in Dubai ever since, the petition said, adding that it could be frozen by competent authorities as possible proceeds of crime.

“We kindly urge you to verify this information and take appropriate steps, including asset freezing and forfeiture, where possible, under the 2018 Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters between Nigeria and United Arab Emirate,” the petitioners said.

The controversial Malabu scam had involved oil multinationals, Shell and ENI, transferring $1.1 billion into an account controlled by Etete to purchase one of Nigeria’s richest oil blocks, OPL 245.

From accounts controlled by Mr. Etete, about half the money ($520 million) went to accounts of companies controlled by Abubakar Aliyu, owner of AA oil.

Anti-corruption investigators and activists suspect Etete fronted for top officials of the Goodluck Jonathan administration as well of officials of Shell and ENI.

The transaction was authorised in 2011 by Mr. Jonathan through some of his cabinet ministers and the money was payment for OPL 245, one of Nigeria’s richest oil blocks.

Although Shell and ENI initially claimed they did not know the money would end up with Mr. Etete and his cronies, evidence has shown that claim to be false.

Shell, Eni, Mr. Etete, Mr. Aliyu and several officials of the oil firms are being prosecuted in Italy for their roles in the scandal.