Dutch ambassador to Nigeria, Robert Petri, has been found to have leaked confidential information about an extensive corruption investigation into the operation of Shell in Nigeria.
An integrity investigation into Petri’s tenure as ambassador to Nigeria was prompted by a complaint of integrity received by the country, NRC, a Dutch online news outlet revealed.
The leakage of the confidential information fueled tensions at the embassy.
Petri was brought back to the Netherlands after 15 months, after the Ministry of Foreign Affairs identified major problems at the post in Abuja.
Research by NRC further shows that the ministry only intervened after two consecutive inspections: an integrity investigation into Petri, at the end of 2018, and subsequently a specially inserted investigation into the working climate at the embassy, at the beginning of 2019.
Another potentially incriminating fact surfaced during the integrity investigation: Petri was found to have shared confidential information about an impending visit by the investigative service FIOD to Nigeria at the end of 2017 with the local Shell director.
He did this during a visit he brought with his wife to the man’s house.
FIOD traveled to Abuja in December 2017 as part of the criminal investigation into Shell’s large-scale bribery in Nigeria.
The embassy had prepared the visit of the FIOD officers to their Nigerian sister organisation, EFCC.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs agrees in response that in 2018 “a report was received regarding the then ambassador”.
An investigation of the facts was then carried out.
The spokesperson said, “The investigation and its consequences are confidential.”
Robert Petri himself did not respond.
In a response, Shell confirmed that it received information from the ambassador about the impending FIOD visit.
“The oil company has done nothing with that,” says a spokesman. “The information has been recorded and no further action has been taken.”
The Public Prosecution Service says that it is aware of the state of affairs at Foreign Affairs.
A spokesperson said, “When information about an ongoing investigation is shared in confidence, it is not allowed to subsequently share this information with third parties. This could harm criminal investigations and that is of course undesirable.”
The EFCC, like the Dutch and the Italian authorities, is investigating the corruption affair surrounding the Nigerian oil field OPL245.
Shell and the Italian oil company Eni are said to have paid about $1bn in bribes to local officials and politicians to obtain the rights to this field.