Shell admits dealing with Nigerian money launderer

Oil major acknowledges it held talks with Dan Etete during negotiations to buy OPL 245 oilfield

(Image credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Shell has admitted it dealt with a money launderer when it struck a deal with Nigeria over an oilfield it hoped to exploit.

Up to now, the oil major has insisted it dealt with the Nigerian government when it, along with Italian company ENI, negotiated a $1.3bn deal to buy the rights of the OPL 245, a prime oil block off the coast of the Niger Delta.

However, emails uncovered and published by the Global Witness and Finance Uncovered charities reveal Shell held talks with a man called Dan Etete for up to a year before the 2011 deal.

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"Etete… was later convicted of money laundering in a separate case," says the BBC.

Italian prosecutors allege that $1.1bn of the money paid to Nigeria was passed on to Malabu, a company controlled by Etete.

"Documents filed by the Italian prosecutors claim that $466m of that sum was then laundered through bureau de change and passed on to the then president, Goodluck Jonathan, and members of his government," adds the BBC.

Shell has released a stating admitting it negotiated with Etete, but that the payments went through the Nigerian government and were made according to international law.

"Over the course of several years, Shell made repeated attempts to fully establish and understand Malabu's ownership structure, including the exact role of Mr Etete in Malabu," continues the BBC.

"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. This was consistent with the Federal Government of Nigeria's (FGN) position.

"From the complex multi-party negotiations that followed, we knew the FGN would compensate Malabu to settle its claim on the block. We believe that the settlement was a fully legal transaction with the FGN."

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