Malabu scam: UK returns $85m to Nigeria

The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, said on Thursday last week (October 26, 2017) that Nigeria had recovered $85 million from the Malabu Restrained Funds in the United Kingdom.

In 2015, a British judge, Justice Edis of the Southwark Crown Court refused to release $85 million to Malabu, a company controlled by former Minister of Petroleum, Chief Dan Etete.

The $85 million was seized at the request of Italian prosecutors who were also investigating the deal. The money was part of the Oil Prospecting License (OPL) 245 largesse not yet distributed.

The former AGF, Mr. Mohammed Adoke, and the former Minister of State for Finance and Former Minister of Petroleum, Chief Dan Etete were accused of conspiring and defrauding the federal government of $1.1 billion in a shady oil bloc deal. Specifically, Adoke was accused of playing a major role in the alleged fraudulent deal that saw the transfer of ownership of Malabu Oil to two multinational oil companies, Shell Nigeria Exploration Production Company and Nigeria Agip Exploration Ltd.

Mr Malami lamented that the recovery and repatriation of stolen wealth stashed abroad continued to be very tedious despite several bilateral and multilateral agreements entered into between Nigeria and other jurisdictions.
He noted that even when the provisions of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption oblige state parties to facilitate the return of stolen assets to victim states, countries including Nigeria are saddled with some challenges.

On monies looted by the late Gen. Sani Abacha, he said: “We have indeed concluded the negotiation with Switzerland on the return of $320 million recovered from the late Abacha family. I am pleased to inform that the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) were involved in the negotiation of the Memorandum of Understanding.

“Most importantly, the CSOs will be involved in monitoring the use of the funds. With the conclusion of the negotiation, parties hope to sign the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at the GFAR and repatriation will follow within weeks as agreed by the parties.”

The Swiss Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Eric Mayor, said his government and the government of President Muhammadu Buhari were committed to fighting corruption, adding that the Swiss government changed her legislation in the last decades in order to avoid that stolen monies could be deposited in their banks.

He said Switzerland was the first country to give the looted money back to Nigeria, especially $722 million stolen by the Abacha family in 2005.

“The Swiss justice nevertheless continued its investigation and discovered that other assets were still around and froze hundreds of millions of naira deposited by the Abacha family in other banks, this time not in Switzerland but in Luxembourg,” Mayor noted.

Source: ThisDay