Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, on Wednesday, arraigned Malabu Oil and Gas Limited, six other companies and an oil magnate, Aliyu Abubakar before Federal High Court on a 48-count charge bearing on fraud.
The defendants were arraigned for their involvement in alleged fraudulent transfer of controversial OPL 245, considered as one of the richest oil blocks in Africa.
Other defendants in the charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/268/2016, are A-Group Construction Company Limited, Rocky Top Resources Limited, Mega-Tech Engineering Limited, Novel Properties and Development Company Limited, and Carlin International Nigeria Limited.
EFCC accused them of laundering about $1billion and N673million.
The anti-graft agency alleged that Malabu Oil & Gas Ltd and two of its directors, who are currently at large- Seidougha Munamuna and a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Dauzia Etete, known as Dan Etete- “directly or indirectly converted the sum of $401,540,000 paid from the Federal Government of Nigeria Escrow Account with JP Morgan Chase Bank in London into Malabu Oil’s account with First Bank of Nigeria Limited.”
They were said to have converted the money, even when they knew that the funds formed part of unlawful activity, to wit: “negotiation and signing of oil block 245 Resolution Agreement with Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep Limited, Nigeria Agip Exploration Limited, Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Limited whereby taxes due to the Federal Government was waived.”
EFCC alleged that they took control of the sum of $401,540,000 in violation of Section 9(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, an act punishable under Section 15(3) of the same law.
The agency further alleged that in September 2011, Abubakar and Rocky Top Resources Limited took control of the sum of $336,456,906.78, which was part of proceeds of unlawful activity in the Malabu Oil deal.
In another count in the charge, EFCC told the court that in August 2011, Abubakar and Imperial Union Limited also took control of the sum of $34,540,00 they received from Malabu Oil and Gas, being proceeds of unlawful activity in the OPL 245 deal.
Abubakar was alleged to have neglected to report in writing to the EFCC certain single-fund transactions involving the bank accounts of his separate companies between 2011 and 2014.
The EFCC alleged that the firms being Designated Non-Financial Institutions, by virtue of section 10(1) (b) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011, ought to report such huge transactions to the EFCC in writing, failure of which is punishable under Section 10(3) of the same law.
Abubakar and Carlin International Nigeria Limited allegedly failed to report the lodgement of N300million in the firm’s account by a former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke (SAN) in February 2012.
The EFCC further alleged that the businessman and A-Group Construction Company Limited failed to report the sum of N32.108million paid to Triax BDC in January 2014; and N38milion paid to them by Falana Properties Limited in August 2015.
The EFCC alleged that the sum of $73.5million paid to Rocky Top Resources by Malabu Oil in September 2013 was not reported.
It told the court that Abubakar and Megatech Engineering had in August 2011, failed to report the transfer of $180million that was made to them from Malabu Oil’s account.
They were said to have also failed to report another N50million transfer that was equally made to them in September 2016.
All the defendants pleaded not guilty to the charge.
EFCC’s lawyer, Mr. Bala Sanga did not oppose request for bail the 8th defendant, Abubakar, who is the only natural person in the charge, made through his lawyer, Akin Olujinmi, SAN.
Trial Justice Inyang Ekwo accordingly granted bail to the defendant, who is also facing multiple charges alongside the immediate past AGF, Adoke, SAN, over the alleged oil bloc fraud. Justice Ekwo subsequently adjourned the case till September 7 for trial.