As resources from Nigeria’s touchy oil sector continuously fail to actualise the long lost hope of an economic boom in the country, the Nigerian government has filed a suit at a commercial court in London against two oil companies operating in that country on bribery allegations and is demanding $1.1 billion.
According to news reports, the suit is regarding an oilfield, the OPL 245 facility deal which is currently the subject of an ongoing corruption trial in Milan, Italy where officials of the two companies are facing charges.
The reports indicate that prosecutors in Milan are alleging that bribes to the tune of $1.1 billion were paid to secure the license to explore the field. But production hasn’t started yet in the field because of the legal disputes.
Reuters reports that the fresh suit also is connected to payments made by the two companies in reation to the oil field.
As a result, US bank, JPMorgan is facing action for the role it played in making a transfer of $800 million of government funds to a former Minister of Petroleum, Dan Etete, who has been convicted for money laundering. In a separate trial, a Milan court is reported to have found a middleman guilty of graft after prosecutors alleged that he had received a mandate from Etete to find a buyer for the oil field after he had collected $114 million for his services, but Etete has denied any wrongdoing.
Nigeria is Africa’s largest producer of oil and the sixth largest in the world, producing nearly three million barrels of oil per day. While oil is a very important component of Nigeria’s economy, the sector is riddled with corruption which often means the country doesn’t benefit as it should, leading to steep poverty among majority of citizens and widening of the poverty gap in Africa’s most populous country.
By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi