Nairametrics| The saga that is the Malabu scam involving one of Africa’s richest oil blocks, OPL 245, continues to rage on with new revelations made on a regular basis. The latest involves oil multinational company, Royal Dutch Shell, admitting that it knew that Malabu and hence, Dan Etete, were involved in the sale of the oil block.
“Over time, it became clear to us that Etete was involved in Malabu and that the only way to resolve the impasse through a negotiated settlement was to engage with Etete and Malabu, whether we liked it or not,” Premium Times quotes an official of Shell as saying in an email Monday.
Hence, Shell has admitted knowing that Malabu and a former convict of financial crimes, Dan Etete, would be ‘compensated’ in order to settle its claim on the block. This admission came after phone calls between Shell’s chief executive, Ben van Beurden, and his then chief financial officer, Simon Henry were intercepted, implying that Shell knew that Etete was the main beneficiary of the deal.
Previously, on several occasions, Shell had maintained its ignorance that Malabu or Etete would benefit from the deal, claiming that it dealt with the Nigerian government directly. For example, Precious Okolobo, a communications officer with Shell had said that the company was not aware that that money was to be paid to Malabu. Similarly, Andrew Vickers, Shell’s Vice President NGO and Stakeholder Relations, said in 2015 that “As we have previously stated, no payments were made by any Shell company to Malabu Oil and Gas in relation to the issuance by the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) of the OPL 245 licence to Shell Nigerian Exploration & Production Ltd and Nigerian Agip Energy (NAE).”
It is believed that the exposure of the intercepted phone calls is what forced Shell into admitting that it dealt with Etete indirectly and that the company would have continued its deceit otherwise. Thus, even though Shell continues to proclaim its innocence, its deceit in this instance forces one to wonder how many other things the oil giant could be lying about. If it could deal with Etete, a convicted money launderer indirectly, just to get its hands on the block, who says Shell was not directly involved with Etete every step of the way?