April 17, 2019 / 7:27 PM / 7 months ago

Nigeria issues arrest warrants for ex-ministers over Malabu oil deal

ABUJA/LONDON (Reuters) - A Nigerian judge issued arrest warrants for two former ministers and an Eni manager over the sale of offshore oilfield OPL 245 by Malabu Oil and Gas in 2011, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission said on Twitter on Wednesday.

Dan Etete, former petroleum minister, ex-attorney general Mohammed Adoke and Eni manager Roberto Casula “are to be arrested anywhere they are found”, the EFCC said in a statement. It said it followed a ruling by a judge in the capital, Abuja.

Eni called the move “disproportionate and detrimental” to the rights of its manager.

“These warrants seem to have originated from the failure by the Nigerian Judicial Authorities to notify and serve the pending proceedings to the Eni managers as per international procedure for the last two years,” it said in a statement.

Reuters was not able to immediately reach Etete, Adoke or Casula for comment.

The $1.3 billion deal has spawned legal cases spanning several countries and involving Nigerian government officials and senior Eni and Shell executives.

Eni and Shell jointly acquired the field from Malabu, which was owned by Etete. An ongoing case in Milan alleges that roughly $1.1 billion of the total was siphoned to agents and middlemen.

The Milan court has already convicted middlemen Emeka Obi, a Nigerian citizen, and Italian Gianluca Di Nardo, of corruption. Shell and Eni have denied all wrongdoing.

In a statement, the EFCC said the defendants had repeatedly failed to appear before the court in Abuja and that the Nigerian police, INTERPOL and any other law enforcement agencies would have the authority to arrest the men.

Reporting by Paul Carsten in Abuja, Libby George in London and Emilio Parodi in Milan; Writing by Alexis Akwagyiram and Libby George; Editing by Toby Chopra and Kirsten Donovan

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