As a corruption summit called by UK Prime Minister Dodgy Dave Cameron is about to start in London tomorrow, further details are emerging on how former president Goodluck Jonathan and his petroleum minister made out like bandits.
Corner House, a UK-based non-governmental organisation that has long-standing expertise in investigating and exposing corruption and holding those responsible to account, and Dotun Oloko, a Nigerian anti-corruption campaigner, have submitted evidence to a UK parliamentary committee of dirty deals involving former president Goodluck Jonathan, ex petroleum minister Diezani Alison Madueke and a handful of cronies. Part of the evidence is reproduced below.
Seven Energy: Front for looting Nigeria’s oil revenues.
Seven Energy is a UK-registered company, which, together with its related sister company, the Nigeria-registered Atlantic Energy Drilling Concepts Ltd (“Atlantic”), acquired interests in eight oil mining licenses in Nigeria through a process which the Central Bank of Nigeria (“CBN”) has alleged was used to unlawfully divert over $6 billion (yes billion) in oil revenues for the benefit of high ranking Nigerian government officials and their close associates widely reported to have been former President Goodluck Jonathan and his former oil Minister, Mrs. Alison-Madueke.
DfID [the UK’s Department for International Development] is invested in Seven through a number of funds. One is the UK-registered private equity firm Actis LLP (which until 2012 was 40% owned by DfID). The Actis investment was made through the Actis Africa Fund II, Canada Investment Fund for Africa and the Actis Umbrella Fund. Simon Guy Harford, a senior officer in Actis had a seat on the board of the Seven offshore subsidiary, Gulf of Guinea Energy Limited prior to Actis’ investment in Seven Energy. Actis should therefore be considered a company of interest since it is highly likely that it had direct knowledge of Seven’s involvement in the alleged oil fund theft and may have made its investment on the basis of that knowledge.
DfID is also invested through the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) and through PIDG.
The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) and POCU have told us that, in their view, Seven Energy was a “briefcase” company. Our own investigations have shown that Seven was a shell company which had no experience of oil exploration at the time that it was awarded its oil licences. Moreover, its company accounts reveal numerous “red flags”, including conflicting statements which appear designed to hide the identity of its ultimate beneficial owners.
In April 2015, we submitted a detailed memorandum to the National Crime Agency’s International Corruption Unit (ICU) detailing our concerns over Seven and over Actis’ involvement. The memorandum, which is reproduced at Annex 2, also identified a number of Nigerian and UK citizens that, on the evidence, should be treated as “persons of interest”. These included Jide Omokore (a key principal in Seven and Atlantic), Kola Aluko (another key principal in Seven and Atlantic), Scott Aitken (another key principal in Seven and Atlantic who was the inaugural CEO of Seven and now CEO of Atlantic), Philip Ihenacho (the former Executive Chair of Seven) and Simon Guy Harford (who was appointed head of Actis West Africa in July 2006 and served as a director of Seven Energy (BVI) Limited from August 2007 to May 2009)
In October 2014, in the wake of the Sanusi allegations that Seven Energy had been used to unlawfully divert oil revenues due to the Nigerian state, DfID and PIDG were questioned by the Public Accounts Committee of the House of Commons over its involvement in Seven. In this instance the focus was on the investment made through the DfID-sponsored Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund and the Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG). In response, PIDG stated that EAIF had discussed “the allegations regarding the ‘looting [of] Nigerian oil revenues”’ and concluded that there was no cause for concern. By way of justification, it cited assertions by the then Nigerian Attorney General and the Nigerian Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke, that Seven’s oil licenses had been awarded lawfully. This was despite the fact that Adoke, should have been considered by virtue of his position to have been one of those who would have unlawfully benefitted from the illegal diversion. We note that Mr Adoke is currently being sought by the Nigerian police for interviewing over his alleged role in grand corruption including the diversion of oil revenues.
Astonishingly DfID and PIDG chose to accept Adoke’s assertions over the detailed dossier of allegations that had been compiled by the then Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and submitted to the Nigerian Senate in a 20-page memorandum supported by some 30 appendices, containing several legal opinions and other evidence. Critically, at the time of DfID/PIDG’s response, Seven Energy was a focus of investigations by the US FBI and the DfID-funded ICU into the corruption and money-laundering activities of the former oil minister. The former oil minister and other associates have since been arrested in the UK by the ICU and she is currently on bail. The ICU have also issued a request for the extradition from Switzerland of Kola Aluko, one of the principals of Seven and Atlantic Energy and alleged front for the former oil minister. Another principal of Seven and Atlantic Energy, Jide Omokore, was reportedly arrested by Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in January 2015 and questioned about his involvement in the alleged oil revenue thefts. However, to our knowledge, no action has been taken against the western citizens, professionals and companies who have been involved in Seven’s alleged criminality.