Four international anti-graft groups have protested against plans for an out-of-court settlement with Royal Dutch Shell (RDS) Plc and Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (“SNEPCO”) over Oil Prospecting Licence (OPL) 245, which is otherwise called Malabu Oil Block.
They asked The Netherland Government to ensure that Shell loses the oil block, explaining that since four former Shell employees, including a former RDS executive, were already on trial in Italy, any settlement reached in The Netherlands must not undermine that prosecution.
The anti-graft groups argue that any settlement that does not produce a remedy proportionate to the alleged crime could not be seen as just.
The OPL245 is an offshore oil block with about nine billion barrels of crude.
It was auctioned for $1.3 billion (1.1 billion euros).
The Federal Government received only $210 million as Signature Bonus, but about $1.092 billion was traced to a London bank account which was suspected to be slush funds allegedly used to bribe some middle men and politicians in the country.
A former President (names withheld) was accused of benefiting about $200 million as proceeds from the Malabu oil deal .But there were concerns that the controversy over Malabu Oil Block has been lingering since 2001 (17 years) and there was need to resolve it.
The latest development borders on a likely out-of-court settlement of all issues on the controversial block.
But four anti-corruption groups have cautioned The Netherlands against “settlement” without deterrent for Shell.
The protesting groups are: The Corner House; Re: Common; HEDA and Global Witness.
Their position is contained in a January 9 petition to the Minister of Justice in The Netherlands, Mr. Ferdinand Grapperhaus.
The petition reads: “We write collectively as non-governmental organisations who, for the last six years, have been investigating Shell’s acquisition of the OPL 245 oil and gas field in Nigeria. Royal Dutch Shell Plc (“RDS”) is currently on trial in Milan, charged with international corruption in relation to the OPL 245 deal.