Shell, Eni To Face Trial over $1.1bn Malabu Bribe

26925

Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Eni SpA senior executives will face trial for alleged  $1.1 billion bribery in Nigeria, an Italian judge ruled yesterday.

The trial will start on March 5 in Milan, Justice Giusy Barbara ruled.

The long-awaited decision, initially expected several months ago, will not only affect the two companies but 11 individuals, including Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi.

READ ALSO:   Anger In Ogoniland Over Oil Spill Clean-Up Delay

The case is related to the acquisition of a deepwater oil-prospecting licence by Eni and Shell in the Gulf of Guinea in 2011. Prosecutors allege that the two companies’ payment of almost $1.1 billion into a Nigerian government escrow account was later distributed as payoffs.

While energy producers have come under scrutiny for bribery and corruption in the past, a trial centered around the sitting CEO of an oil major is rare.

READ ALSO:   Revealed! COVID-19 Crisis: Shell Set To Cut Upstream Oil Operations By 40%

“This is really quite a big precedent-setting case,” said Barnaby Pace, a campaigner at watchdog Global Witness, which first shone a light on the alleged transactions. “It’s unusual to see oil majors at the sharp end of the stick in this way,” Pace said before the decision was announced.

Shell said that it is “disappointed” by the judge’s decision. “We believe the trial judges will conclude that there is no case against Shell or its former employees,” said Anna Haslam, a London-based spokeswoman.

READ ALSO:   Malabu Scandal: Trial of Shell, Eni, officials adjourned in Italy

The Anglo-Dutch company, whose former upstream director Malcolm Brinded is among those facing trial, acknowledged in April that it was aware of the destination of part of the payments, but denied wrongdoing.

Eni’s board released a statement expressing “full confidence in the correctness and integrity of both the company’s and chief executive’s actions,” and said it’s confident of Eni’s “non-involvement in the alleged illegal conducts.”

READ ALSO:   Nigeria Loses $6bn In Corrupt Oil Deal

Brinded said on yesterday he’s “disappointed” by the decision and insisted “there is absolutely no basis for the charges against me.”

A final court ruling may take years, potentially bringing steep legal costs for the two companies. The average length of a civil trial in Italy was 460 days in 2016, according to the Ministry of Justice.

READ ALSO:   BREAKING: Lagos Socialite, Dapo Ojora, Son of Billionaire Businessman, Adekunle Ojora Commits Suicide

Shell and Eni are also facing criminal charges in Nigeria over the same deal. In Europe, Dutch investigators visited Shell’s offices in The Hague in 2016 as part of a probe into the same matter.

 

The Nation

Subscribe to Our VIP Newsletter

Previous articleIt ‘ll be Difficult to Defeat Buhari in 2019 – Fani-Kayode
Next articleBritish Deputy PM, Green Resigns Over Pornography
Hamilton Nwosa

The New Diplomat stands for ethical journalism, press freedom, accountable republic, and gender-equity. That is why at The New Diplomat, we are committed to speaking truth to power, fostering a robust community of responsible journalism, and using high quality polls, data, and surveys to engage the public with compelling narratives about political, business, socio-economic, environmental, and situational dynamics in Nigeria, Africa, and globally. From our insightful reports of political issues to our riveting investigations and analyses of business, socio-economic, and cross-cutting sectors, The New Diplomat remains ever committed to investigative reporting and ethical journalism. Support and partner with The New Diplomat today, to guarantee a positive future for all under an atmosphere of free press!

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here