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OPL 245: A falling out of thieves

The unbecoming squabbling between the crooks involved in the OPL 245 corruption scandal has taken a new turn.

Malabu Oil and Gas has filed a lawsuit in the Nigerian Federal High Court against the Nigerian Federal Government and six other parties involved in the $1bn plus scandal. 

The new action arises from the Nigerian court decision a few days ago to pass ownership of the OPL 245 block back to Shell and Eni/Agip. 

The defendants include: 

  • Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep Limited
  • Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Limited
  • Nigerian Agip Exploration Company Limited
  • Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)
  • Former Petroleum Minister, Dan Etete
  • The Nigerian Minster of Petroleum

I have not indicated which parties are honest and which are crooks. It is impractical to do so because, in matters involving Nigeria, it is sometimes difficult to separate one from the other, bearing in mind that three Nigerian Presidents have all been implicated in the amazing unsavoury spectacle. The judiciary is also riddled with corruption.

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Shell oil sands exit, mired in OPL 245 scandal, wary over Iranian Oil

Links below to a selection of news stories posted on
our sister website royaldutchshellgroup.com.

They include, among other developments, news that Shell is rightly wary of buying more Iranian crude oil. This is because of the legal minefield relating to sanctions. 

Also coverage of the latest news about the OPL 245 Nigerian corruption scandal involving Shell and ENI.

Plus Shell’s fire sale of most of its Canadian oil sands operations and the jump in total pay for Shell CEO Ben van Beurden, an issue likely to be raised at the forthcoming AGM. 

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Shell confirms several countries investigating OPL 245 scandal

By John Donovan

Printed below are extracts from Shell’s Annual Report and Form 20-F 2016 relating to the OPL 245 corruption scandal.

Shell confirms that authorities in various countries are investigating its investment in Nigerian Oil Block OPL 245

Page 15

Authorities in various countries are investigating our investment in Nigerian oil block OPL 245 and the 2011 settlement of litigation pertaining to that block. On January 27, 2017, the Nigeria Federal High Court issued an Interim Order of Attachment for oil block OPL 245, pending the conclusion of the investigation. Shell has applied to discharge this order on constitutional and procedural grounds. On February 14, 2017, we received notice of the request of indictment from the Italian prosecution office in Milan with respect to this matter.

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Kiobel vs Shell discovery doc battle continues in US Courts

Ms. Kiobel has been trying for years to obtain justice for the murder of her husband and other abuses committed against her. That justice was denied to her in the United States, not on the merits, but due to an unforeseen limitation on the reach of the Alien Tort Statute that no lower court had previously imposed.

By John Donovan

The headline above is not strictly correct.

The current battle in the US courts IS between Esther Kiobel and Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP. However, the real battle is between Esther Kiobel and Shell – a long term client of Cravath.

Cravath holds over 100,000 Shell internal documents assembled by Shell for litigation brought by Esther Kiobel many years ago in the US courts. The following extract from a submission made by her lawyers on 23 February 2017 explains what happened:

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LEAKED EMAILS SHOW SHELL AND ENI CONSPIRING TO HIDE PAYMENT IN CORRUPT OPL 245 DEAL


Global Witness has published leaked emails between Eni and Shell officials conspiring to arrange the OPL 245 deal

Italian prosecutors are seeking separate charges against four senior Shell executives including current Shell Foundation Chairman Malcolm Brinded, who was head of Global Exploration and Production at the time of deal.

3rd March 2017

Oil giants Shell and Eni face historic criminal charges over a tainted $1.1 billion deal struck for Nigerian oil block OPL 245 in 2011, Global Witness reported today.  According to charges filed by Nigerian law enforcement agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) at the High Court in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, Eni, Eni’s Nigerian subsidiary Nigerian Agip Exploration Limited and Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary Shell Nigeria Exploration Production Company Limited are accused of conspiring to commit “Official Corruption contrary to Section 9 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000”. Former Nigerian Justice Minister Mohammed Adoke and former Oil Minister Dan Etete were also charged with official corruption for recieving over $800m from Shell and Eni. This is the first time that the two oil companies have been charged in Nigeria for their role in the deal.

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Shell Nigerian corruption, lunch and lots of iced champagne

A few minutes ago I published an article that mentioned Shell’s long-standing connection with Hakluyt & Company, the private spy firm populated by former senior MI6 officers. 

Titled Shell directors were directors, major shareholders and for a time, the ultimate spymasters in the company. Shell was and remains a client.

I have had direct dealings with Hakluyt in connection with Shell that I can only describe as bizarre. One thing was plain. They were very concerned. A titled lawyer, Sir Anthony Hammond QC drafted the response we received. Interesting then to see an article just published by the London Evening Standard. 

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Oil Resumption in Ogoni: Does Our Society Still Have Any Conscience?

By Fegalo Nsuke

When in 1993, the Ogoni people embarked on the journey to redefine their future with a historic march involving over 300,000 people, little did they know that they were not only on a self-rescue mission but were to shape the life and future of the entire Niger Delta. The Ogoni struggle became an eye-opener to the nefarious and very repugnant ecological war of the multinational oil companies in the Niger Delta.

Government response was simply to sentence 9 outspoken Ogoni leaders to death by hanging. It would have been expected that the hanging of Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight others on November 10, 1995 was to end the Ogoni agitation, at least it was sufficient to put fear into everyone who dared to question the operations of the multi-national oil companies, and was expected to guarantee the resumption of oil production in Ogoni and cover up the massive human rights abuses perpetrated by the Nigerian authorities and Shell. against the Ogoni people. The Nigerian authorities had imagined that no one would further organize the Ogoni resistance after Saro-Wiwa.

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Simon Henry sells another £1m worth of Shell shares

The fact that Simon Henry the departing Chief Financial Officer of Royal Dutch Shell Plc has flogged another £1m plus worth of Shell shares has not gone unnoticed in the financial media.

The above Daily Mail article based on information I supplied, was published several weeks ago after Henry sold £1m worth of his Shell shares days before his unexpected resignation.

Now the latest instalment in his Shell share selling spree has been taken up by Interactive Investor, asking whether director dealing activity can be a warning sign. 

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Trials and Tribulations of Royal Dutch Shell Plc

Links below to a selection of current news stories posted on
our sister website royaldutchshellgroup.com. They include, among other developments, news that Shell has lost another court case, this time at a cost of $254m.

There is also coverage of further litigation relating to Shell’s nefarious activities in Nigeria, with the latest events in the OPL 245 saga. 

And The Motley Fool poses a very important question: Can BP and Shell survive the coming oil price crash? 

Shell loses $254m court case: EnergyVoice.com 16 Feb 2017

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US Legal Battle over 100,000 Shell Internal Docs

There is a major legal battle in progress in the US courts relating to over 100,000 Shell internal documents and witness depositions arising from the famed Kiobel vs Royal Dutch Petroleum Co case.

Shell lawyers Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP has just obtained a stay of a Court Order which had required the discovery materials to be made available to Esther Kiobel by 27 February 2017. The details and the associated court imposed deadlines flowing from the stay are indicated in the above COURT ORDER dated 14 February 2017. 

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US appeal against order to hand over Shell docs for Dutch case

 The most audacious argument being made by Cravath against the Court Order is that since Esther Kiobel has already waited more than twenty years in pursuing Shell, what’s the problem in her waiting even longer!

By John Donovan

Yesterday, despite the fact that the petition case resulting in the recent Court Order had been officially closed, Cravath filed an appeal against handing over the Shell discovery documents for use in the Dutch courts. This is for an imminent human rights action being brought by Esther Kiobel against Shell in its home country.

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Shell Charged With Corruption In OPL 245 Nigerian Oil Deal

Italian prosecutors have reportedly charged oil giants Shell and Eni with international corruption offences, as the companies struggle with the fallout from their controversial 2011 purchase of an oil licence in Nigeria.

Several senior executives from the two companies – including Eni’s current CEO Claudio Descalzi – have also been asked to stand trial individually over the $1.3billion deal, along with former Nigerian oil minister Dan Etete.

Shell declined to comment when approached by Energydesk. Individuals briefed on the matter said the company had not yet received notice from the Italian prosecutors.

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