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OPL 245: Dutch Ambassador leaked confidential information to Shell

English translation of an article published by nrc.nl

OPL 245: Shell was tipped off in advance about a pending visit to Nigeria by officers from a Dutch criminal investigative agency “about an extensive corruption investigation into Shell the oil company itself.”

Ambassador leaked to Shell

Nigeria In 2017, the Dutch ambassador to Nigeria shared confidential information about a visit from the FIOD with the local Shell director.

At the end of 2017, the Dutch ambassador to Nigeria leaked confidential information about an extensive corruption investigation into Shell to the oil company itself. This was revealed in an integrity investigation into Robert Petri, who was prematurely replaced as ambassador to the Nigerian capital Abuja in early 2019.

Petri was brought back to the Netherlands after fifteen months, after the Ministry of Foreign Affairs identified major problems at the post in Abuja. Research by NRC shows that the ministry only intervened after two consecutive inspections: an integrity investigation into Petri, at the end of 2018, and subsequently a specially inserted investigation into the working climate at the embassy, ​​at the beginning of 2019.

The initial investigation was prompted by a complaint of integrity about Petri. It was about a trip that the ambassador made in May 2018 with his wife on an airplane of a Nigerian gas company of which Shell is one of the shareholders.

Another potentially incriminating fact surfaced during the integrity investigation: Petri was found to have shared confidential information about an impending visit by the investigative service FIOD to Nigeria at the end of 2017 with the local Shell director. He did this during a visit he brought with his wife to the man’s house.

FIOD traveled to Abuja in December 2017 as part of the criminal investigation into Shell’s large-scale bribery in Nigeria. The embassy had prepared the visit of the FIOD officers to their Nigerian sister organization EFCC (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission).

The leakage of the confidential information fueled tensions at the embassy

The EFCC, like the Dutch and the Italian authorities, is investigating the corruption affair surrounding the Nigerian oil field OPL245. Shell and the Italian oil company Eni are said to have paid about $ 1 billion in bribes to local officials and politicians to obtain the rights to this field.

The leakage of the confidential information fueled tensions at the embassy that had arisen shortly after Petri took office. In the months following the Shell incident, the State Department received more signals of problems in Abuja. They came from within, but also from Nigerian partner organizations of the embassy.

For example, in May 2018, Nigerian activist Godwin Ojo of Friends of the Earth Nigeria complained to the department that protects Petri “Shell”. And priest Edward Obi, who – with approximately three tons of subsidy per year from the Dutch government – fights against oil pollution in the Niger Delta, asked the ministry in July 2018 by letter “whether Ambassador Petri is in favor of the Dutch government, or all of Shell’s side? has chosen”.

FIOD traveled to Abuja as part of an investigation into Shell’s large-scale bribery in Nigeria

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs agrees in response that in 2018 ‘a report was received regarding the then ambassador’. An investigation of the facts was then carried out. The spokesperson: “The investigation and its consequences are confidential.” Robert Petri himself does not respond.

In a response, Shell confirms that it received information from the ambassador about the impending FIOD visit. The oil company has done nothing with that, says a spokesman: “The information has been recorded and no further action has been taken.”

The Public Prosecution Service says that it is aware of the state of affairs at Foreign Affairs. A spokesperson: “When information about an ongoing investigation is shared in confidence, it is not allowed to subsequently share this information with third parties. This could harm criminal investigations and that is of course undesirable. ”

SOURCE

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