Italian prosecutors have accused former president Goodluck Jonathan and former minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Allison Madueke of benefiting from the $1.3 billion Malabu oil deal involving oil giants Shell and ENI.
A lawsuit was filed in December 2016 in Milan, Italy, against 11 people, including senior executives from the two oil majors and the companies themselves.
However, although ex-president Jonathan and Alison-Madueke were not named on the list, the prosecutors allege that they played a central role in the deal.
According to a report by the Agence France-Presse, AFP, no formal charges have been brought against the former President and oil minister, but parties usually have 20 days to respond to the conclusion of the preliminary investigation report before any formal prosecution.
The report claimed that ENI chief executive, Claudio Descalzi, and his predecessor Paolo Scaroni, met Jonathan “in person” to thrash out the deal, which also involved former British intelligence agents working as advisors for Shell.
Prosecutors also allege that ENI and Shell executives worked with Dan Etete, a businessman and former oil minister between 1995 and 1998 under the regime of Sani Abacha.
According to court documents seen by journalists, Etete’s company, Malabu, was the “fraudulent holder” of the OPL 245 block.
The Prosecutors said that talks were held in Milan and Abuja, after which the oil block was bought illegally by the ENI and Shell “without competitive tendering” and with “full, unconditional exemption from all national taxes”, in contravention of Nigeria’s laws.
They further allege that a total of $801.5 million was transferred to Etete’s Malabu accounts, of which $466 million was converted into cash in Nigeria and used to remunerate government officials, including Jonathan and Alison-Madueke.
Another $54 million was allegedly withdrawn by one Abubakar Aliyu, whom prosecutors say was an “agent” of Jonathan.
Beneficiaries of the deal subsequently went shopping, buying “property, aeroplanes and armoured cars,” prosecutors added.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, also said it has instituted charges in connection with the Malabu oil deal, though the commission’s spokesman, Wilson Uwajuren, did not provide details.
Former Petroleum Minister, Alison-Madueke, the first woman to be elected President of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, is facing a number of corruption allegations in Nigeria.
She was arrested in the UK in 2015by Britain’s National Crime Agency on suspicion of bribery and money laundering, though she denies the allegations.
Last week, the Federal High Court in Lagos ordered Alison-Madueke to temporary forfeit $153 million that was allegedly syphoned from state coffers.
Former President Jonathan has also denied corruption allegations, saying that the allegations during his tenure were largely exaggerated.
However, former first lady Patience Jonathan has been at the centre of controversy after the EFCC froze bank accounts containing millions of dollars, which the first lady later said belongs to her.