The Nigerian government on Thursday alleged that former President Goodluck Jonathan and other officials who worked in his government possibly hid or failed to document fraudulent payments made in the controversial Malabu oil scandal.
The government made the allegation in a fresh skeleton argument presented through its lawyers during a case management conference on Thursday.
The argument was presented on behalf of the government by attorneys representing Nigeria, including Roger Masefield, Richard Blakeley, and Ben Woolgar.
Other officials named by the government as accomplices are the former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, and former Attorney General of the Federation, Bello Adoke.
In May, the government had accused Mr Jonathan and Mrs Allison-Madueke of accepting bribes and breaking the country’s laws to broker the $1.3 billion oil deal in 2011.
In papers advancing the London commercial court suit against oil multinational Shell and Eni, lawyers to the Nigerian government said the officials conspired to “receive bribes and make a secret profit”, keeping the government from getting what it was owed from the deal.
“Bribes were paid. The receipt of those bribes and the participation in the scheme of said officials was in breach of their fiduciary duties and Nigerian criminal law,” the filing, seen by PREMIUM TIMES, showed.
In the court filing, obtained by this newspaper’s London partners, Finance Uncovered, the Nigerian government also sought about $3.5 billion in damages from oil giants Eni and Shell over the controversial Malabu oil deal. The government accused Eni, Shell, Malabu and other defendants of, among others, “fraud or/and bribery, dishonest assistance and unlawful means of conspiracy.”
In his reaction, Mr Jonathan, who is not under any probe on the matter, fiercely denied the allegation.
A statement by Ikechukwu Eze, media adviser to the former president, described the allegation that Mr Jonathan acted corruptly and may have received bribes as “recycled falsehood that is blatantly dishonest, cheap, and predictable.”
The controversial Malabu scandal involves the transfer of about $1.1 billion by oil multinationals, Shell and ENI, through the Nigerian government to accounts controlled by a former Nigerian oil minister, Dan Etete.
Prosecutors alleged that half the money ($520 million) went to the accounts of companies jointly controlled by Abubakar Aliyu, popularly known in Nigeria as the owner of AA oil, and Mr Etete.
Investigators and activists suspect Mr Aliyu fronted for top officials of Mr Jonathan’s administration, as well of officials of Shell and ENI.