By Mike Ogbu
The Chief prosecutor at the ongoing trial of criminal suspects associated with the controversial Malabo oil deal, Francesco Greco, opened up a can of warms this week when he blasted corporate organisations including those in Nigeria of investing in corruption to cripple local economy fueling poverty and chaos. The report was made available to Irohinoodua.
Said Greco “In Milan we are full of proceedings for international corruption and we see the negative effects, both against the victim states and against our companies that instead of investing in innovation, invest in bribes”. Many see the judge’s statement as an open indictment of the oil companies involved in the Malabo oil deal,
Greco who spoke in Milanat the presentation of the 2018 social responsibility balance sheet of the judicial offices of the Lombard capitalsaid corrupt corporate organisations now invest heavily in corruption in order to cover up their ugly tracks.
Greco is leading the prosecution of Shell and Eni, the two oil giants said to have played leading roles in the fleecing of Nigeria millions of dollars in the Mabalu OPL 25 deal.
The Judge said “Companies invest more in bribes than innovation” exposing what he called the ‘occult contract’ that binds corrupt representatives of governments and managers of international companies. The radical statement of the Judge has been received by several anti-corruption groups across the world.
Reacting to Greco’s statement Chairman, Human Environmental Development Agenda, (HEDA Resource Centre) MrOlanrewajuSuraju, the Nigerian anti-corruption group pushing the prosecution of the suspects in the grand crime said the position of the Judge exposes the “ignoble chain of corruption and the global conspiracy of local and international officials whose shameful conducts” continues to keep Nigerians at the backbench of economic and industrial transformation.
Foreign anti-corruption experts currently in Nigeria, Christian Erickson, Nick Hildyard and Lionel Faull have praised the courage of the judge. The three are currently in Nigeria training selected Community Based Organisations, (CBOs), journalists and representatives of anti-corruption agencies on strategies for tracing illicit funds and assets.
The Judge had said “In other words, this system is not limited to damaging their business or reputation, but constitutes a consolidated mechanism that directly or indirectly affects the population of the countries involved, plundering the resources necessary for socio-economic development and consequently worsening their living conditions”. According to him the “vicious circle, which the activity of the Public Prosecutor’s Office is committed, within its own sphere of competence, to fight is referred to by the so-called ‘curse of resources’”.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo had revoked the OPL 245, granted by late dictator, Sanni Abacha to Dan Etete, former Nigerian Petroleum. Etete had reassigned it to Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company which he later reclaimed through Etete’sMalabu Oil and Gas, in 2006 through the court. Shell rejected the decision, but the Government of former President Goodluck Jonathan ensured Shell and Eni boughtthe OPL 245 in the sum of $1.1billion.
The EFCC investigation had held many Nigerian topshots for complicit in corruption and double-dealing in the implementation of the settlement and resolution of agreements on Oil Prospecting License OPL 245 and OPL214 between Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd, belonging to former Petroleum Minister, Dan Etete and the federal government of Nigeria in 2010.
EFCC investigations indicated that over $1.2 billion was laundered in a series of criminal plots involving corruption and bribery all of which are linked to Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd, Shell Nigeria Ultra deep (SNUD) Nigeria Agip Exploration (NAE) and other Nigerian officials.
The investigation was launched in Italy where some Nigerian officials and their foreign collaborators are facing criminal charges.