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ABUJA, Jan 23 (Reuters) – Nigeria’s financial crime watchdog charged former attorney general Mohammed Adoke in court on Thursday for allegedly receiving bribes to facilitate a $1.3 billion oil deal, the agency said in a statement.
It is the latest development in one of the oil industry’s biggest corruption scandals, over the 2011 sale of the offshore oilfield known as OPL 245 by Malabu Oil and Gas.
A resulting investigation has entangled two of the sectors biggest players, Shell and Eni, as well as an array of powerful figures from the previous Nigerian government.
“Adoke is accused of using public office for gratification,” said the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission statement, adding there were 42 charges against the former official.
Adoke was charged with receiving the U.S. dollar equivalent of 300 million naira ($980,550) in 2013 to facilitate the OPL 245 deal and help waive taxes for Shell and Eni, according to a charge sheet filed in an Abuja high court last week.
The former attorney general pleaded not guilty to all charges, according to the commission’s statement. Reuters was unable to reach Adoke or his lawyer for immediate comment.
The next hearing, for bail applications, will be Jan. 27, the statement said.
Shell’s and Eni’s local subsidiaries have also been charged with illegally assisting Adoke in waiving the taxes, according to last week’s charge sheet.
Malabu was owned by former petroleum minister Dan Etete.
Shell and Eni, and their executives, have denied any wrongdoing. Etete has also denied wrongdoing.
$1 = 305.9500 naira
Reporting by Felix Onuah in Abuja; Writing by Paul Carsten;
Editing by Elaine Hardcastle and Mark Potter