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According to information available to Reuters, the Italian prosecutor has asked for Eni and Shell to be fined and some of their former and current executives, including Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi, to be jailed in a long-running trial over an alleged corruption scheme related to licence OPL 245 in Nigeria.

The prosecutors alleged that Eni and Shell knew that the money paid to the Nigerian government for the licence offshore Nigeria would go to politicians, businessmen, and middlemen in bribes, particularly Dan Etete, Nigeria’s former oil minister, who owned the block through his company Malabu.

According to Reuters, the prosecutors asked for eight years in prison for Descalzi and seven years and four months for Shell’s former head of upstream Malcolm Brinded.

Italian oil and gas company Eni considers that the Public Prosecutor’s requests for conviction of the company its former and current CEOs and the managers involved in the Nigerian bribery case related to the OPL 245 license are completely groundless.

Eni said in a statement that, during its indictment, in the absence of any evidence or tangible reference to the contents of the trial investigation, the Public Prosecutor has told a story based on suggestions and deductions as already developed during the investigation.

In furtherance to Eni claim, 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 stated.

Eni said that together with Shell it had paid a reasonable price for the licence directly to the Nigerian Government, as contractually agreed and through transparent and linear means.

Furthermore, Eni emphasized it has no premonition 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 emphasized .

Eni and Shell paid a reasonable price for the license directly to the Nigerian Government, as contractually agreed and through transparent and linear means. Furthermore, Eni had no premonition 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).

According to Eni, there were no bribes from Eni in Nigeria, no existence of an Eni scandal. Eni also recalled 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. And that the multiple internal investigations entrusted to international third parties by the company’s supervisory bodies have long since highlighted the absence of unlawful conduct. Hopefully, 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. 

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