09 Jun 2020
Nigeria has tracked down and grounded the luxury private jet purchased by its former oil minister, Dan Etete, with some of the alleged proceeds of the nororious $1.3 billion Malabu OPL245 oil deal.
Asset recovery lawyers acting for the Nigerian government swooped last week after the Bombardier 6000 jet, tail number M-MYNA, touched down at Montréal-Trudeau International Airport in Canada on Friday evening (29 May).
It had just flown from Dubai via Shannon Airport in the west of Ireland.
It is not known whether any passengers were on board.
A Quebec judge is understood to have granted a seizure order for the aircraft in the early hours of Saturday morning.
The seizure was confirmed to Premium Times’ London partner Finance Uncovered by Nigeria’s lawyer, Babatunde Olabode ‘Bode’ Johnson.
Mr Johnson said that the order was served on the jet’s owner, a company called Tibit Ltd, which has until Tuesday next week (9 June) to file court papers opposing the seizure.
Tibit Ltd is an anonymously owned company incorporated in the British Virgin Islands (BVI).
Giuseppina Russa is also named on the Montreal court order. BVI company records suggest Tibit’s sole director is Giuseppina Russa of J. Russa Consultants, a company based in Montreal.
Ms Russa, who appears to have previously been an executive assistant of sales for Bombardier, is not thought to be Tibit’s beneficial owner.
Contacted for comment, she said she was not the director of Tibit, and had asked to be removed as a director a number of years ago.
She said she had been hired as a contractor to decorate the plane’s interior, but that she had had nothing to do with Tibit’s affairs since 2013.
She said: “I vehemently deny and contest any wrongful conduct on my part”.
Former Minister Etete is alleged to have paid a total of $57m for the jet in 2011. It has a range of up to 6,000 nautical miles and a luxurious interior for 17 passengers.
The jet was part of an epic spending spree Mr Etete is said to have embarked on after allegedly receiving over $800million from the OPL 245 deal.
As Nigerian oil minister in the last weeks of the corrupt Abacha military regime in 1998, Mr Etete had effectively awarded the prospecting rights to the huge OPL 245 block to a company he secretly controlled, Malabu Oil and Gas.
By Lionel Faull and Margot Gibbs, Premium Times and Finance Uncovered, 6 June 2020
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