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$1.3bn scandal: Prosecutors seek jail terms for Eni, Shell executives

Italy wants recovery of $1.1bn from Dan Etete
Call for sentence groundless, baseless, say firms

Italian prosecutors have demanded a 15-year and four-month jail terms for current and former executives of oil super majors, Malcolm Brinded (former head of upstream at Shell) and Eni’s Chief Executive Officer, Claudio Descalzi. They also want the two oil firms to be fined in a long-running trial over al-

The prosecutors also asked that the two firms be fined 900,000 euros ($1.04 million) each and sought to confiscate a total of $1.092 billion from all the defendants in the case, the equivalent of the bribes alleged to have been paid. Besides, the prosecutors are seeking a 10-year jail term for former Nigeria’s Minister of Petroleum, Dan Etete.

They are also seeking the recovery of $1.1 billion from the former minister who owns Malabu Oil. All the defendants have denied any wrongdoing, saying the purchase price was paid into an official Nigerian government account with all subsequent transfers being beyond their control. Eni said the prosecutors’ request was unfounded and it would show the company and managers had acted correctly.

“Eni is confident that the truth will ultimately be established” when the defence presents its arguments in September, it said in a statement. Shell issued a statement, saying it did not believe there was a basis to convict the company or any of its former employees. “There is no place for bribery or corruption in our company,” Shell said. Shell has said the 2011 agreement was a settlement of long-standing litigation, following the previous allocation of the block by the Nigerian government to Shell and Malabu. Another 11 people are involved in the case, including former Eni Chief Executive, Paolo Scaroni, for whom prosecutors also sought an eight-year sentence.

There has been no timetable for final decision in the case, but the next hearings are due in September. However, it is not clear if the prosecutors’ request for jail term to be meted on those accused of Malabu oil deal will be granted since a court in London had ruled and vindicated Shell for any wrong doing in the deal. Therefore, the Milan prosecutors’ request goes contrary to the London’s judgement in the same issue. Eni, in a statement made available to New Telegraph, stated that it “considers that the public prosecutor’s requests for conviction of the company, its former and current CEOs and the managers involved in the OPL 245 proceeding are completely groundless.”

“This narrative ignores both the witnesses and the files presented within the two years long and more than 40 hearings proceeding that have decisively denied the prosecutorial hypothesis. “Defence lawyers are going to show to the court that both Eni and its management’s conducts were correct in the OPL 245 transaction. “Eni and Shell paid a reasonable price for the licence directly to the Nigerian government, as contractually agreed and through transparent and linear means. Furthermore, Eni neither knew nor should have been aware of the possible destination of the money subsequently paid by the Nigerian government to Malabu. “Moreover, the payment was made after an inquiry carried on by the UK’s Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA).

“So, there can, therefore, be no bribes from Eni in Nigeria, no existence of an Eni scandal. Eni recalls the decision of the Department of Justice and the US SEC, which decided to close its own investigations without taking any action against the company.

“The multiple internal investigations entrusted to international third parties by the company’s supervisory bodies have long since highlighted the absence of unlawful conduct. “Eni trusts that the truth can finally be re-established following the defensive arguments that will be presented at the end of September, pending the Milan Court’s forthcoming verdict,” the statement added.

leged $1.3 billion oil scandal in Nigeria. In one of the oil industry’s biggest alleged scandals, Italian prosecutors stated that Eni and Shell acquired a Nigerian oilfield in 2011, knowing most of the $1.3 billion purchase price would go to politicians and middlemen as bribes. In a Milan court, prosecutors asked for eight years in prison for Descalzi and seven years and four months for Brinded.

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