Malabu oil: Nigeria’s Aliyu Abubakar risks InterPol arrest for alleged role in $500m bribery
Detectives working on the popular Malabu oil deal in which Shell and Eni were alleged to have bribed Nigerian government officials with $500m in cash are pushing for Interpol to arrest a Nigerian businessman, Alhaji Aliyu Abubakar, Chairman of A.A Oil, who was said to be the conduit for the distribution of the bribe cash.
After studying emails and allied documents relating to the deal, Milan prosecutors have fingered Abubakar as the middleman who facilitated the bribery of senior government officials from Aso Rock to the Ministry of Petroleum Resources. They want Interpol to effect the arrest of Abubakar so he can face prosecution in Italy.
At the resumed hearing of the case in Italy this week, an Italian judge ordered that Abubakar should stand trial for alleged international corruption relating to the Eni and Shell oil deal in Nigeria.
Milan prosecutors allege that Abubakar played a central role in one of the oil industry’s biggest scandals in years, handing out more than $500 million in cash to powerful Nigerian government officials.
The money is alleged to come out of the $1.3 billion licence fee paid by Eni and Shell for access to the OPL-245 offshore oilfield located in the southern Niger Delta.
Abubakar’s Italian lawyer, Davide Pozzi, said his client, who lives in Nigeria, denies any wrongdoing in the case.
“Mr Abubakar will clarify his position in the appropriate place,” he said.
Italian prosecutors allege that Eni and Shell bought the oilfield in 2011 knowing that most of the purchase price would be siphoned off to middlemen and local politicians.
Both firms and the managers accused in the Milan court case, including Eni’s current chief executive Claudio Descalzi, have denied any wrongdoing.
Abubakar, an influential Nigerian businessman, was already under investigation but prosecutors were unable to locate him to serve the necessary deeds to put him on trial until he appeared in the case as a witness via a video linkup in February 2019.
The start of his trial has been scheduled for May 14 before a Milan court, Pozzi said. However it is unclear whether he will actually appear.
In the main part of the multi-strand case, prosecutors are due to begin summing up and setting out sentencing requests for Descalzi and other defendants beginning on March 25.
Additional reports by REUTERS