Malabu deal: FG confiscates Dan Etete’s $57m jet in Canada
The Federal Government has grounded a luxury private jet owned by former minister of petroleum, Dan Etete, believed to have been bought with proceeds from the controversial $1.1 billion Malabu oil deal.
Mr Etete is alleged to have paid a total of $57 million for the jet in 2011 after allegedly receiving $336 million from the OPL 245 deal under the rule of military dictator, Sani Abacha.
The Bombardier 6000 jet with tail number M-MYNA had been on the government’s watch list since it touched down at Montréal-Trudeau International Airport in Canada on May 29.
Babatunde Johnson, whose firm, Johnson & Johnson Solicitors, was appointed by the Nigerian government in 2016 to recover assets from the OPL 245 deal, told Financial Uncovered about the government’s move.
The jet was said to have flown from Dubai via Shannon Airport in the west of Ireland.
It was not immediately clear if any passengers were on board.
The seizure order was reportedly signed by a judge in Quebec on Saturday and was served on the company which owns it, Tibit Ltd, incorporated in the British Virgin Islands.
The company, Mr Johnson said, had until June 9 to oppose the court order.
The lawyer also said the jet had been grounded in Dubai for the past four years, where it had been closely monitored.
“Our investigators in Dubai then noticed that the jet, having been grounded in Dubai for so long, suddenly did some test flights and even went up to a cruising altitude for a short while. It seemed like they were testing whether they could fly somewhere,” he was quoted to have said.
“The jet then took off from Al Maktoum International Airport, Dubai, mid-morning on Friday. We did not know the destination at that point.
“We now suspected that it was being flown to Canada for a major service, pending a possible sale.
“We had just a few hours to get a legal team in place on the ground there in Canada to file the injunction. It was 3am in Nigeria when I made a statement to the judge via video link.”
A Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court in Gwagwalada had in January issued an arrest warrant for Etete following an ex-parte application filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over the deal.
Etete, 75, is also facing corruption trial in Italy for the OPL 245 deal. But the Federal Government is understood to be seeking his extradition.
Multinational oil firms, Eni and Shell, have both denied receiving kickbacks in the controversial deal.
It is not known whether Etete still owns or uses the private jet which dealers currently value at approximately $20 million.