The police in Italy have launched an inquiry into Nigeriaâ€™s most infamous deep water oil block, OPL 245.
By this action, they join the British, who in July last year also began a probe of the allegation that money laundering may have been involved in a $1.3 billion Nigerian oil bloc deal involving Royal Dutch Shell and Italy’s Eni SpA.
According to previous newspaper reports in Nigeria, the two companies are alleged to have paid as much as $1.092 billion to the Nigerian government, using a JPMorgan Chase Bank in London. The government had a parallel agreement to pay the money to Malabu
Oil and Gas, which belonged to former Petroleum Minister Dan Etete, according to a report of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The money paid to Malabu Oil & Gas was then shared by some private companies belonging to certain officials at the very heart of the Jonathan presidency.
Last July, a British High Court ruled that Etete was indeed the owner of Malabu Oil & Gas. In effect, while he was a Minister under General Sani Abacha, Etete had cleverly acquired the lucrative OPL 245.
Last month, an adhoc committee of the House of Representatives set up to investigate the 2012 sale of the oil block to Shell and Eni recommended that the government should revoke the licence, arguing that the agreement violated Nigerian law.
Sources in Italy now say that the prosecutorâ€™s office in Milan say the track of the money paid by Eni became known because of civil cases between Malabu Oil & Gas and mediators (Russian Agaev and Zubelum Chukwuemeka Obi, a Nigerian).
The account further says that that in May 2011, a bonus of $205 million was paid to the Nigerian government of Nigeria to cover up disputes relating to the ownership of the block 245.
Although the announcement from the Italian Prosecutorâ€™s office in Milan said there are no suspects yet, they are relying on wiretapping obtained from several Italy-based ENI subjects namely : Henry John Woodcock, Francesco Curcio, Paulo Scaroni, Luigi Bisignani and Eni ‘s General Manager Claudio Descalzi.
In March 2011, President Goodluck Jonathan ordered the sum of $1.1billion paid to Malabu oil company account by ENI AGIP and Royal Dutch Shell, the monies were then shared by entities close to President Jonathan, in particular the Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Bello Adoke was fingered directly as Mr. Jonathanâ€™s front in receiving kickbacks.