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Malabu Oil deal: EFCC quizzes SNEPCO boss over $1.092b settlement cash

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20 April 2016

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission( EFCC) has quizzed the Managing Director of Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Limited (SNEPCO), Mr. Bayo Bashir Ojulari over the controversial  Malabu oil block (OPL 245) deal.

The anti-graft agency is specifically seeking the whereabouts of $1,092 billion paid by SNEPCO and Nigeria Agip Exploration Limited (NAE) into an escrow account.

It was learnt that investigators were trying to determine last night whether the cash had been used  for the settlement of the dispute on the oil block or diverted elsewhere.

The SNEPCO MD said he had no knowledge of what the  the government was going to do with the cash.

But Ojulari reportedly  named those who signed the deal for the Federal Government and the oil firms.

EFCC operatives were searching for clues on how NAE became part of the Malabu oil deal.

The anti-graft agency is looking for the forces behind what was termed the “sudden involvement” of Agip in the OPL 245 deal.

A source, who pleaded not to named, said: “One key area we are probing is the whereabouts of the $1,092 billion paid for the oil well by SNEPCO and NAE.

“We want to ascertain the escrow account which the money was paid into, if the money is still in the account, if it has been spent  and what it was used for by the administration of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan. We have conflicting reports on what became of the $1,092 billion.

“So far, we have grilled the MD of SNEPCO, Mr. Bayo Bashir Ojulari. We will interact with other oil firms and stakeholders in the deal. We are inviting more people soon.

“But Ojulari’s appearance has given us the clues to explore.”

Ojulari, it was learnt, said there were two agreements on Malabu Oil Block deal – Block 245 Resolution Agreement and the SNUD Resolution Agreement.

A top source quoted Ojulari as saying: “The signatories to Block 245 Resolution Agreement were: The Hon. Minister of Petroleum Resources( Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke), the Attorney- General of the Federation( Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke) ;the Hon. Minister of Finance; NAE Vice Chairman and Managing Director; NAE Company Secretary; SNUD Director; SNEPCO Director; NNPC Group Managing Director and Company Secretary.

“The SNUD Resolution Agreement was signed by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, the Minister of Petroleum Resources; SNUD Director, SNUD Secretary; SNEPCO Director and SNEPCO Secretary.”

The SNEPCO MD also reportedly told investigators that  the “signatories to the terms of settlement were Mr. Chikelu Onyejekwe, Mutiu Sunmonu and Rasky Gbinigie for SNUD, SPDC and Malabu.

“The escrow agreement was signed by Muhammed Bello Adoke for the Federal Government, Ciro A. Pagano for NAE and Olujimi Lawal for SNEPCO. Escrow terms and conditions form part of the Escrow Agreement

“By the terms of Block 245 Resolution Agreement, SNUD agreed to the release of the outstanding Signature Bonus of $207,960,000 and to appoint an escrow agent for the purpose of paying to FGN  a sum of $1,092,040billion.”

Another source also gave insights into the interaction with SNEPCO MD on how the cash was paid into an escrow account.

The source said: “Ojulari confirmed that  $982,040,000 was the total contribution of NAE to the settlement while SNEPCO contributed $110,000,000 to make up the required $1,092,040billion for the purpose of of the Federal Government of Nigeria(FGN) settling all and any existing claims and or issues over OPL 245 in accordance with the agreement. Evidence of SNEPCO payment of the $110m will be provided.

“On the issue of SNEPCO having knowledge of what the government was going to do with the $1,092,040billion paid to the Escrow Account, he said he was informed reliably that the said amount was going to be “used for settlement of Malabu dispute as referenced in Block 245 SNUD Resolution Agreement for the FGN-Malabu Settlement.”

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