The Swiss chateau, the British oil trader and Nigeria’s OPL245 ‘corruption’ scandal

Finance Uncovered worked with The Times in London and journalists and activists in its international network to produce an investigation showing how a British commodities firm and its former chief executive received millions of pounds from one of the biggest corporate bribery scandals in history.

The Times ran this news piece that splashed its Business section and a two-page 1600-word spread inside here.

Our partners in Nigeria, Premium Times, ran its version of the story here. It was bylined by Oladeinde Olawoyin, who attended our illicit finance training course in London in September 2018.

The Finance Uncovered investigation showed how Peter Bosworth and Arcadia Petroleum have been named in multiple court documents as among the recipients of funds from the allegedly corrupt 2011 deal in which Eni and Royal Dutch Shell acquired a prized Nigerian oil block.

Arcadia Petroleum and Mr Bosworth are not parties in any of the litigation and both deny any wrongdoing. A lawyer for Mr Bosworth said no proceedings had been brought against him in relation to OPL 245.

It is alleged that $800m paid by Shell and Eni was diverted to companies controlled by Chief Dan Etete, a former oil minister whose claim to ownership of the block stemmed from 1998, when as oil minister he awarded the oil license to a company he controlled.

The Nigerian government has said in a High Court filing against Shell and Eni that it is investigating the reasons for the payments to Mr Bosworth and Arcadia Petroleum, and that it reserves the right to take action to try to recoup funds originating in the deal.

The particulars of claim were filed by the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the UK courts last month (April 2019). Finance Uncovered is making them available freely available here: Particulars of Claim, Nigeria v Shell, Eni.

Our investigation can reveal the following:

  • According to leaked records, Arcadia appears to have funded a “life of luxury” for Etete, including bills of £174,000 in at the luxury Parisian Hotel le Bristol, where a number of the OPL 245 meetings were held.
  • Arcadia’s internal documents link funds it received from OPL 245 to Mr Bosworth’s 2011 purchase of a “sumptuous” Swiss Chateau with views over Lake Geneva.
  • According to leaked emails quoted in an Italian court judgment, in August 2010, Mr Bosworth advised Mr Etete on his dealings with Diezani Alison-Madueke, then the Nigerian oil minister, over OPL 245.
  • Arcadia appears to have held the original account opening documents for Mr Etete’s account at Banque Misr Liban, into which OPL 245 funds were intended to be transferred in 2011.

Mr Bosworth, 55, said he had “no reason to believe anything was either unlawful or corrupt” in his dealings with Mr Etete. He admits giving Mr Etete some “informal advice” but said he was “not involved in the OPL 245 transaction”.

A €33,456 bill incurred by Dan Etete from the luxury Hotel le Bristol in Paris – one of many picked up by Arcadia Petroleum