28 September 2018

Nigeria recovers over $400 million in stolen state oil funds

While Nigerian investigators recoup over $400 in stolen state oil funds, an Italian court sentences two men in Eni and Shell Nigeria case.

Nigerian investigators have reported they recovered $470.5 million in state oil company funds that had been siphoned off into private bank accounts.

Oil corruption

The investigators stated they had discovered funds linked to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation's (NNPC) Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) business unit during a nationwide exercise to recover stolen funds. President Muhammadu Buhari, who won the 2015 election campaigning on anti-corruption, had ordered government revenues to be placed in a treasury single account (TSA) at the central bank as part of an anti-corruption drive. Money recovered from suspected theft was also to be put in the account. Nigeria, Africa's biggest crude oil producer receives 83 percent of its export earnings from petroleum sales. Low oil prices had put the country into recession, from which is only just now re-emerging. However, mismanagement and corruption in Nigeria's oil and gas industry has blighted the country, leading to a loss of billions of dollars annually.

Eni and Shell case

The sentencing of two men in an Italian court was the first ruling in a corruption case involving oil giants Eni and Shell in Nigeria. The main trial of Eni and Shell for corruption started in Milan in the spring, but both oil companies deny the charges. Italian magistrates contend the two oil groups used bribes to obtain rights in 2011 to OPL245, an offshore oil block estimated to hold 9 billion barrels of crude oil, for $1.3 billion. From that total, $1,092 billion is believed to represent bribes paid to a London bank account that were redirected to various Nigerian politicians, including former oil minister Dan Etete, while the Nigerian government received only $210 million.