By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA — The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Wednesday, arraigned Malabu Oil & Gas Limited, six other companies and an oil tycoon, Aliyu Abubakar before the Federal High Court on a 48-count fraud charge.
The Defendants were docked over 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 alleged that they were involved in money laundering to the tune of about $1billion and N673million.
According to the anti-graft agency, 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”.
The Defendants 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.
More so, the agency alleged that Abubakar and Rocky Top Resources Limited, in September 2011, 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 Abubakar and Imperial Union Limited, in August 2011, equally 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, are 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, failing which is punishable under section 10(3) of the same law.
Abubakar and Carlin International Nigeria Limited allegedly failed to report the lodgment of N300m 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 N32.108m paid to Triax BDC in January 2014; and N38m paid to them by Falana Properties Limited in August 2015.
The EFCC alleged that the sum of $73.5m 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 $180m that was made to them from Malabu Oil’s account.
They were said to have also failed to report another N50m transfer that was equally made to them in September 2016.
Meanwhile, 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.