Ten months after its inauguration, the House of Representatives committee which investigated the transaction involving the Federal Government and Shell/Agip Companies and Malabu Oil and Gas Limited in respect of the Sale of Oil Bloc OPL 245 investigating has fingered the attorney- general of the federation (AGF), Mr. Mohammed Adoke (SAN), Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company, SNEPCO and Nigerian Agip Exploration of complicity in the settlement agreement on OPL 245.
In the 70 -page report exclusively obtained by LEADERSHIP last night, the report which was laid before the House on Tuesday by the chairman of the ad-hoc committee on The Transaction Involving the Federal Government and Shell/Agip Companies and Malabu Oil and Gas Limited in respect of the Sale of Oil Bloc OPL 245, Hon Leo Ogor (PDP, Delta), also disclosed that contrary to claims by the AGF before the committee that the federal government only played the role of an obligor, documents before the committee show otherwise.
Faulting the argument of the AGF that the role of the federal government was only that of an obligor, the lawmakers noted in its findings that clause 10 of the resolution agreement granted full and unconditional exemption from any obligation and liabilities in respect of capital gain, taxes in income, withholding taxes and value added tax in respect of transactions and payments arising from or relating to the agreement with with government.
“This has clearly gone beyond the role of an obligor with great inherent liabilities to the government of our nation. From the position paper presented by the HAGF (Honourable Attorney- General of the Federation), he claimed that the role of the FGN in the dispute resolution was that of obligor but clause 17 in the dispute resolution agreement clearly stipulates that the FGN shall indemnify, save and hold harmless and even defend SNUD, SNEPCO and NAE from and against all suits proceedings, claims, demands, losses and liability of any nature or kind, including but not limited to all litigation cases, attorney fees, settlement payments, damages and all other related costs and expenses, based on, arising out of related to or in connection with the FGN Resolution agreement and the Resolution Agreement and or the issuance of the Oil Prospecting Licence in respect to Block 245. ”
The committee also called for an outright cancellation of the handover of the oil bloc to Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company, SNEPCO (50 percent ownership) and Agip (50 percent ownership) for being based on a flawed agreement with Malabu Oil and Gas Company.
The panel, mandated to do the job in October last year, could not establish how Nigerian Agip Exploration, NEA, became one of the listed parties in the dispute of ownership for the bloc since the company had expressly informed the committee that it never entered into any transaction with any person or party nor was it a signatory to the disputed OPL 245.
In its findings, the lawmakers said, “the issue of OPL 245 bothers on a dispute of ownership between Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd, SNUD (Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep) and the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which by extension is the NNPC. No other parties are known to be part of the said dispute. We therefore conclude that the resolution agreement , if any, should be between these three parties”.
Describing it as “very worrisome”, the company was quoted in a letter to the committee as saying, “in response to your letter dated 31st July, 2012, we wish to state that Nigerian Agip Exploration Limited did not enter into the transaction reflected in the Block 245 Resolution Agreement (FGN Resolution Agreement) on the basis of any invitation letter from person/persons authority/ body inviting Nigerian Agip Exploration Limited to come and resolve the dispute between the federal government of Nigeria, Malabu and Shell Nigeria Exploration and Petroleum Company Limited or to participate in the transaction”.
The lawmakers also found that in violation of the Petroleum Act, the dispute resolution agreement showed that the actual signature bonus payment for the bloc by SNUD was one million (1,000,000) USD and not the two hundred and ten USD (210,000,000) as stated in the bid because only that amount was paid to the federal government while the remaining one hundred and ten million dollars (110,000,000) USD was kept in an escrow account controlled by SNUD.
SNUD, the report continued, then reallocated its interest in the bloc to SNEPCO which reimbursed it with five hundred and forty three million, five hundred and sixty thousand USD for work plan programme and signature bonus, leaving only the federal government of Nigeria as the only interest.
Querying the whereabouts of the NNPC’s share in the initial 2003 PSC (Product Sharing Agreement) and the breach of Indigenous Participation Policy of the government , the lawmakers asked the federal government to unravel how full ownership at 50 per cent interest each to SNUD and NEA was approved, leaving out NNPC from the deal.
The committee wrote, “Surprisingly, the dispute resolution terminated the 2003 PSC agreement between NNPC and SNUD upon the grant of the oil prospecting license to SNEPCO and NAE (an unknown party in the dispute). The question that needs to be answered is what happened to the NNPC subsisting interest in the December 22, 2003 PSC.”
“Ceding all rights and obligations in respect of bloc 245 to SNEPCO and NAE…This is a violation of the Deep Water Bloc Allocations of Company’s Regulations 2003. The issue that keeps rearing its head is, where is our national interest in bloc 245?”, the legislators asked.
The lawmakers went further to ask the federal government, through the ministry of Petroluem Resources and the Office of the AGF, to facilitate a new ‘Resolution Agreement’ in line with the Petroleum Act and the Indigenous Concession Programme of government that guided the initial allocation of OPL 245 to Malabu Oil and Gas, as a situation where the “Resolution Agreement diverted 100 per cent of the beneficial ownership to two foreign-based companies is contrary to our national aspirations”.
In its findings on the owners of Malabu Oil and Gas, the investigative committee said Mohammed Sani Abacha owns or his successor in title owns 50%, Kweku Amafegha (Dan Etete) or his successors owns 30% and Pecos Energy Ltd owns 20%.
Calling for prosecution for financial crimes in line with the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the report called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to fully prosecute individuals and banks involved should be investigated and “charged to an appropriate court of competent jurisdiction and any such monies unlawfully transferred should be recovered”.
They said their probe revealed that in an escrow agreement, Shell/Agip paid one million, ninety two thousand USD through the federal government account at JP Morgan Chase, New York, for onward transmission to Malabu Oil and Gas, out of which intermediation lodgements for four hundred million USD were then remitted into Keystone Bank and four hundred and one million, five hundred thousand USD was transferred to First Bank. The legislators also noted that the matter is pending in EFCC in an ongoing investigation.
The report added that indication of under hand dealings and failure to do full disclosure in its bid to acquire the bloc emerged when being technical partners to Malabu, who was originally awarded the contentious bloc as part of a policy to encourage indigenous participation in the upstream sector of the petroleum industry, Shell/SNUD ended up as the winner of the bid round, bidding as high as two hundred and ten million USD against twenty million dollars bidder by Malabu Oil and Gas on the excuse that they were invited by the FGN.
It further noted that no reason was and has not been given for the revocation of Malabu’s right to OPL 245 till date.
The report is yet to be debated by the House in plenary while relevant pronouncement on the matter is yet to be made by the majority of the lawmakers.
Controversy over Etete’s claim of receiving N37.5 billion ($250m)
One question the report was unable to clear is the whereabouts of the remaining money out of the final settlement of over $1 biilion as the said former petroleum minister, Dan Etete, said he got a fraction of the amount.
LEADERSHIP checks revealed that Etete admitted in a London Court to receiving a total sum of about N37.5 billion ($250m) from the settlement from the oil giants who took over OPL 245, leaving the sum of N135.5 billion unaccounted for.
In the midst of all these, there is a pending petition raised by 70 per cent shareholders of Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd to the EFCC and the presidency over non- payment of their entitlements even after some parties claim to have received settlements.
Information from Leadership was used in this report.