The chair of parliament’s international development committee has
called for the government to make clear what it is doing to
investigate a $1.3 billion oil deal signed by Shell and Italian oil
company ENI in Nigeria.
The call comes after BuzzFeed News and the Italian newspaper Il Sore
24 Ore published “Shell Shocks”, a cache of emails and court documents
revealing that Shell top executives signed off on a deal with full
knowledge that most of the money would go to Malabu, a company
connected to a former Nigerian oil minister, Dan Etete.
The documents also show that Shell employees knew of — and explicitly
discussed — the risk that payments could be used by Etete to pay
people off.
In a statement, Shell said it did not believe the company or any of
its current or former colleagues had acted illegally. ENI said neither
it nor its employees had been involved in any wrongdoing, and were
fully cooperating with authorities.
On Monday a coalition of media outlets and NGOs, including Global
Witness and the BBC, independently reported much of the same material.
In a statement, Stephen Twigg – a Labour MP and head of the
international development committee – said the revelations were
“This case is about the sale of a Nigerian oilfield, but involves at
its centre one of the UK’s biggest registered companies,” he
continued. “The responsibility for dealing with such cases rests with
the UK, as much as it does with the Nigerian authorities, and the
government must clarify what action it is taking to address these
“At a time when Nigeria’s people are facing famine, the diversion of
such enormous sums of money is utterly indefensible. It is vital that
this case is dealt with as quickly as possible so that the money so
urgently needed can be returned to the Nigerian people.”
He added: “The Committee repeats its calls on the Government to hold
to account companies registered in the UK to take a stronger stance on
transparency measures such as public beneficial ownership registers in
the Overseas Territories, and to consider carefully the ramifications
of Brexit on important safeguards such as the EU Accounting Directive,
which could help to prevent such cases arising in the future.”
ENI said its deal for the block had been with the government of
Nigeria. “Neither ENI nor Shell paid any monies other than as
contemplated and recorded by the Block Resolution Agreement and did
not pay to Malabu, to Chief Dan Etete or to any public officer,” the
spokesman added.