A foremost investigative newspaper in London Global Witness, GW, has asked Royal Dutch Shell to apologise to Nigeria over its role in the $1.1 billion Malabu scandal.
GW’s senior executive, Barnaby Pace, accused Shell of engaging in bribery in an attempt to obtain one of Nigeria’s juiciest oil blocks, Oil Prospecting License, OPL 245 in 2005.
Describing the alleged scandal as “the biggest corporate bribery trial”, he urged the International Oil Company to first clear its name by apologizing to Nigeria people and then assure them that such will not repeat itself.
“This could be the biggest corporate bribery trial in history, and a watershed moment for the oil industry. The top brass of the UK’s largest company is in the dock after it finally admitted dealing with a convicted money launderer. There can be no clearer sign that wholesale change is needed. Shell must first apologise to the Nigerian people, and then take clear steps to reassure investors and the broader public that this won’t happen again. ”
Shell had on several occasions denied its involvement or any knowledge of the scandal; It later made a volte-face and admitted that it knew its billion dollar payment would go to former Nigerian oil minister, Dan Etete, in exchange for OPL 245.
After GW’s investigations, Shell admitted of its dealings with Etete through his front company, Malabu. It is discovered that Etete had awarded his own company the OPL 245 oil block while he was the petroleum minister during the regime of Gen. Sani Abacha.
The Milan Public Prosecutor in December made another startling revelation alleging that $520 million from the deal was converted into cash and intended to be paid to the then Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and some members of his cabinet as well as top government functionaries.
The current CEO of Shell, Ben van Beurden has described report as a mere “pub talk”, which don’t end up in criminal proceedings.
Mr van Beurden had given assurance to address the matter as it can dent the reputation of the oil giant, but nothing tangible has been done by his management team.
Pace has advised him to take a humble pie by admitting the company’s guilt and setting out his plan for overhauling the company’s anti-bribery efforts in order save the company’s future.
An environmentalist, Olanrewaju Suraju, of Human and Environmental Development Agenda of Nigeria has said that the Malabu deal is a strong signal that the practice whereby many oil companies operating in Nigeria do as they like is over, saying that government of those foreign oil companies need to be calling the companies to order when there is need to do so.
“These charges are a clear signal that it is no longer business as usual for oil companies in Nigeria. It’s now time for the Dutch and British authorities to follow Italy’s lead and hold their biggest company to account,” Suraju said