The BBC has experienced proof that top executives at Shell knew money paid to the Nigerian authority for a immense lubricant study would be overstepped to a convicted money-launderer.
It also had reason to believe that fund would be used to pay government bribe.
The deal was finished while Shell was operating under a probation guild for a separate dishonesty bag in Nigeria.
Shell said it did not believe its employees behaved illegally.
OPL 245 is an oilfield off the coast of Nigeria whose thought nine billion barrels of lubricant are worth almost half a trillion dollars at today’s premiums. Shell has been active in Nigeria for practically 60 years and was keen to acquire the field.
New evidence displays just how far Shell was prepared to go to get onto hands on it.
Standing between Shell and its honour was Dan Etete, whose companionship acquired the rights to OPL 245 for a minuscule summing-up while he was lubricant minister of Nigeria. He was later convicted of fund laundering in a different bag.
Shell and the Italian lubricant companionship ENI eventually acquired OPL 245 in 2011 – by paying $1.3 bn to the Nigerian authority. That’s more than the entire state plan of Nigeria but it didn’t get spent on public services.
The government swiftly passed on more than$ 1bn of the money to a company announced Malabu, which was controlled by Dan Etete.
Emails obtained by anti-corruption philanthropies Global Witness and Finance Uncovered, and experienced by the BBC, show that Shell agents were negotiating with Etete for a year before the batch was finalised.
In March 2010, an email from a former MI6 officer employed by Shell shows the company concluded Etete stood to benefit from the batch.
“Etete can smell the money. If, at 70 years old, he does shift his nose up at 1.2 bill he is completely certifiable and we should then probably just hold out until nature makes its course with him.”
That email was forwarded to the then Shell president of the united states Peter Voser – one of the stronger adults in the lubricant business – indicating knowledge of Etete’s involvement disappeared right to the meridian.
Representatives of Peter Voser declined to comment.
Shell also had good reason to suspect that hundreds of millions would end up in the pockets of Nigerian legislators including the former President Goodluck Jonathan.
In an email from July, the same Shell employee reads Etete’s negotiating programme is “clearly an attempt to deliver substantial incomes to GLJ[ Goodluck Jonathan] as part of any transaction.”
Italian prosecutors be argued that $466 m were cleaned through a network of Nigerian unit de change to facilitate pays to President Jonathan and other legislators.
A spokesperson for Goodluck Jonathan told the BBC that no charges or indictments ought to have made or stuck against the former president relating to this event and described the allegations as a “false narrative”.
The BBC is still awaiting explain from Dan Etete, but in the past he has previously denied any corruption.
The controversy around this batch has attracted the attention of law enforcement agencies in Italy and the Netherlands.
In February of 2016 Shell’s departments in the Hague were attacked and documents removed.
On the day of the raid, the current president of the united states, Ben van Beurden called the now former director financial officer Simon Henry to discuss the raid. That order was preserved by Dutch law enforcement officials and has been heard by the BBC.
On that order, Ben van Beurden said that Shell’s own investigation had turned up communication from the former MI6 detectives which he described as “just pub talk in emails which was stupid but nevertheless it’s there” and recognise the latter are “really unhelpful”.
The emails the BBC has experienced seem more than pub talk. They seem to show that a number of Shell ministerials know that a company controlled by Etete is eventually receive over a billion dollars and were advised by their own employees that the money was likely to end up being paid in government kickbacks.
In a statement Shell “re saying it” did not believe that any current or former employees had acted illegally. ENI did not respond to the BBC’s request for explain but has now been territory it did not believe that the company or its ENI personnels had been involved in any wrongdoing.
It should be remembered that this deal was finished just months after Shell had paid $30 m to agree previous allegations of bribery in Nigeria and elsewhere.
As part of a batch to spare the company a detrimental criminal sentence in all such cases, Shell agreed to what was, in fact, a probation guild, by committing an undertaking to the US Department of Justice to tighten up its internal limits in order to stay in compliance with America’s tough anti-corruption ordinances.
The question for Shell is what on world were they doing negotiating with a convicted fund launderer, whom they believed might surpass the money to the president, months after reaching a previous bribery colonization in the same country.
Matthew Page worked for the US State Department in Nigeria for 15 years. He told the BBC: “At a hour when Shell should have been prudent having just decided a previous bag, rather than walk away from a deal with clear dishonesty likelihoods, they doubled down.”
Italian laws will decide whether to proceed with criminal proceedings against Shell and its partner ENI on 20 April.
Corruption may be a stubbornly disappointing fact of life in Nigeria. And there is an opportunity very difficult to teach for lubricant there without buying access through corrupted pays to legislators. Western business – and their investors – have to decide if that is a price worth paying.
Law makers will have to decide whether the weapons they have to stop it are sufficient to deter it.