Former President Goodluck Jonathan has denied allegations that he received $200m ( £160m) from the $1.3bn payments made by international oil companies for access to a prime oil block off the coast of the Niger Delta.
His media adviser, Ikechukwu Eze, said in a statement that the allegations are “fake news” meant to “tarnish his rising profile in the international community”.
Mr Jonathan said he did not know Dan Etete, a former oil minister and the architect of the controversial deal, who received a huge chunk of the payments from oil giant Shell for the lucrative oil block, which he owned:
“The report also wrongly claimed that ‘Jonathan and Etete’ had known each other for years, according to Shell staff, when Jonathan served as a tutor to Etete’s children while he was a minister.”
Shell has denied any wrongdoing.
Nigeria’s government passed on $1.1bn of the money paid by Shell and the Italian firm ENI to a company called Malabu, which was controlled by Mr Etete, according to Italian prosecutors.
Documents filed by the Italian prosecutors claim that $466m of that sum was then laundered through bureaux de change and passed on to then President Goodluck Jonathan, and members of his government.
Mr Jonathan’s spokesman says the oil deal predated his administration:
“Common sense should have shown the purveyors of this slander that the Malabu oil deal far predated the Jonathan regime and it would only make sense for him to be bribed if he had a time machine to go back in time to when the deal was struck.”