“I put my blood, I put my life into this oil block.” – Ex-Abacha Minister Says He Only Made N39 billion In Shady Deal
Abacha’s former minister of petroleum, Dan Etete may be facing the fiercest battle of his life at the moment as it has been revealed how underhand and shady oil deals he was allegedly involved in have now become an albatross.
The Niger Delta area-born former minister, who had been convicted of money laundering by a French court in 1997, is currently before a British court in another case in which fresh can of worms are being opened.
The former minister was said to have embarrassed and contradicted himself before the court when he denied ownership of a company he allegedly used to corner $1.1 billion (N173 billion) proceeds of a certain oil block that was sold in controversial circumstances.
The former minister of petroleum was in court over a breach of contract suit brought against him over the sale of the oil block. Reports added that a businessman, who owns an oil consulting firm, dragged him to court, claiming a $200 million (N30 billion) compensation because he acted as middleman in the sale of the said oil block.
Another report said despite desperate efforts of the former minister, it was discovered that he is the sole signatory to the bank accounts into which some $800 million (N126 billion) said to be the proceeds of the oil block sale was paid.
He was said to have contradicted himself in his testimony when he admitted being the sole signatory to account of the company that sold the oil block, but couldn’t provide any evidence of other shareholders of the company.
Despite denying that he owned the oil block, he was reported as telling the court that “I put my blood, I put my life into this oil block.” Also, when presented with a transcript of a recording where he allegedly said: “It’s my block,” the former minister also reportedly denied it, claiming that the transcript was inaccurate.
The former cabinet member under a military junta also admitted in court that the name mentioned as the said company’s nominee director was actually an alias which he used himself constantly, adding that he had opened bank accounts in the past which he used whenever he went out of Nigeria for “secret missions internationally.”
Investigations revealed that he awarded two oil blocks to this company that he was initially denying ownership of, while the company also has the son of a former military dictator as a shareholder of the company.
It was also revealed that a minister from the North-Central region of the country, who is currently in office, is involved in the messy deals. He was said to have played a prominent and dubious role in the fraudulent transfer of N155 billion to the embattled former oil minister. Sources knowledgeable about both men said this happened during and immediately after the military era, when the ex-convict from the Niger Delta was minister.
Due to the murky nature of the deal and less-than-ethical role played by two international oil firms, and following pressure from anti-corruption campaigners, the European Union Parliament was reported to have voted last Wednesday to make EU-based resources companies disclose all payments of at least €100,000 (N21.5 million) on any project.
Investigators also learnt that Canadian authorities are working on enacting laws similar to the EU’s. It was said that this new rule would reduce corruption and enhance transparency in the extractive industry.
The United States Department of Justice is also reported to have started to show increasing interest in the case of the Nigerian former petroleum minister, with, at least, one of the parties involved in the sale of the oil blocks already contacted.