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Did Dan Etete Pay Jonathan Commission after Oil Block Sale?

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Despite repeated denials that the Jonathan government has never received a dime as the leading go-between in the sale of OPL 245 by Dan Etete's Malabu Oil & Gas to Shell and ENI, there are strong indications and it seems more than probable that many top

Nigerian decision-makers, including President Goodluck Jonathan received huge commissions and kick-backs from the transaction.

A close look at the transaction, such as it has been presented in different court proceedings in London, Paris and New York by Ednan Agaev and Emeka Obi; the other two middle men in the deal, show that the full amount of the transaction - $1.092 billion - passed through an account held by the Nigerian government at JP Morgan bank in New York. learnt from court sources in New York that Dan Etete paid huge commissions to Nigerian government officials including his friend, President Jonathan for the critical role the Nigerian government played in making sure the deal went through because neither Shell nor ENI accepted to hand the money directly to the seller, the Malabu Oil & Gas company owned by Etete, who had been convicted of money laundering by a French court. understands that Dan Etete is having trouble remunerating Agaev and Obi because whatever commissions the two are demanding, has already been paid to Nigerian government officials who micro-managed the operation. A source close to Etete told on conditions of anonymity that Agaev and Obi failed to deliver on the deal and after over ten years of squabbling, time was running out, and Etete had ran out of patience.

To which end, the source noted that Etete; a former Nigerian Oil Minister solicited the intervention of Aso Rock and his personal friend, President Jonathan to use his high office to broker the deal. Both Etete and Jonathan hail from the Delta region. Aso Rock sources confided to that Jonathan opened secret negotiations with Shell after the Nigerian government, in 2006, confirmed the rights of Malabu Oil & Gas over OPL 245 which houses potential reserves of more than 3 billion   barrels. The huge commissions Etete paid helped finance Jonathan's electoral campaign. As part of the deal Jonathan struck, the three-year arbitration proceeding pitting Shell against Nigeria before the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) was dropped.

  It was thus with a sense of embarrassment that Etete was confronted by Agaev who is demanding a $65 million commission for services not rendered. The arbitration court that is to rule on a suit by the Russian lawyer Agaev against his one-time customer, Etete, sat in London this summer. The judges appointed by the London Court of International Arbitration, are to hand down their finding in coming weeks. Last year Agaev put together a highly complicated operation involving the sale of Etete's huge OPL 245 block in Nigeria's offshore to Italy's ENI and Royal Dutch Shell.

According to information gleaned by in London, the hearing went badly for Etete because Agaev displayed a contract signed in due form that fixed his remuneration. His lawyers justified the sky-high figure for the fee - it represented 5% of the transaction's value, or far more than the usual fee for legal or financial advisers - by the fact that no bank was willing to work with Etete after his conviction for money laundering by a French court.

Etete's other adviser in the operation, Emeka Obi, is employing the same argument in his case against Etete which is due to begin on November 16, 2012 before the Commercial High Court of London. With two decisive differences: Obi is claiming a lot more than Agaev ($215 million, or nearly 16% of the deal) and above all he doesn't have a signed contract to show the court. As a result, the outcome of his case is more uncertain even though he has succeeded in freezing Etete's assets throughout the world in the hope of recovering his commission.