The French government has cleared former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Chief Dan Etete, of the conviction of money laundering charges preferred against him in a French court.
The French government said in bulletin number 3, dated March 7, 2014, issued by the Ministry of Justice, Criminal, Cases and Pardon Division that Etete had been pardoned and cleared of the conviction by the French court.
The bulletin, which was signed by the magistrate in charge of the national criminal record, Xavier Pavageau, said the former minister was freed.
The French court in 2007 sentenced Etete, who was Petroleum Minister under the late Head of State, General Sani Abacha, to three years imprisonment after finding him guilty of money laundering charges.
Etete, who was tried by the French court in absentia, was also fined 300,000 euros(about $440,000) by the French for money laundering.
The former minister was also convicted of using 15 million euros of funds believed to have been fraudulently obtained to buy properties in 1999 and 2000, including a chateau in northwest France, a Paris apartment and a luxury villa in the chic Paris surburb of Neuilly.
The court, which then issued a warrant for Etete’s arrest also ordered him to pay 150,000 euros to Nigeria as compensation for moral prejudice and 20,000 euros in fees.
The bulletin number 3 from the French Justice Ministry which conveyed the pardon granted Etete stated: “Statement of convictions to be recorded on bulletin No. 3 in compliance with Art. 777 of the code criminal procedure. In the absence of convictions to be recorded on bulletin no. 3, the said bulletin will bear only a transversal bar (Article R. 84 of the code of criminal procedure).”
The statement said that consequent upon the state pardon granted Etete, his solicitors, Pierre Benoliel, wrote to the French Ambassador in Nigeria to accord the former minister recognition and deal with him as a free man without constraints.
“The letter dated March 7, reads: As youknow, Mr. Dan Etete, eminent personality in Nigeria is a great friend of France and has been so for many years.
“In spite of the judicial vicissitudes that he has unfortunately known in the beginning of years 2000, he is now free of any constraint and he complies with the fiscal and legal French administrations.”