Shell was today embroiled in a bribery scandal amid allegations that the oil giant knew money paid to the Nigerian government for a $1.3 billion (£1.1 billion) project would go to a convicted money-launderer and potentially pay political bribes.
The claims surround a deal made by Shell and a former Nigerian oil minister Dan Etete, whose company Malabu bought the nine-billion-barrel OPL 245 field off the coast of the African country for a paltry $2 million while he was in his government post.
Etete denies wrongdoing.
Shell and Italian rival ENI then bought the field from the Nigerian government in 2011 for $1.3 billion.
More than $1 billion of the takings then passed onto a company controlled by Etete, who was later convicted of money-laundering in an unrelated case.
Now emails obtained by anti-corruption charities Global Witness and Finance Uncovered, seen by the BBC, apparently reveal Shell’s executives were negotiating directly with Etete for a year before the deal was finalised.
One email from a Shell employee in 2010 reveals that the FTSE 100 firm knew Etete would benefit from the deal, reading: “Etete can smell the money.” That email was forwarded to Shell’s then-chief executive Peter Voser. Shell said “we do not believe there is a basis to prosecute Shell”.