Eni investigation not closed for lack of evidence, U.S. DOJ clarifies

Following Eni’s statement last Tuesday about the U.S. Department of Justice’s closure of the investigation into the company’s activities related to the Nigerian offshore license OPL 245, the DOJ has reportedly described it as “misleading.” 

Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi – Photo by Bartolomej Tomic

Italian oil and gas giant Eni is currently on trial in Milan due to alleged corruption activities related to its 2011 acquisition of an oil field in Nigeria. Oil major Shell has also faced allegations of bribery related to the acquisition of the OPL 245 block in Nigeria.

The U.S. DoJ had also been conducting its own, independent investigation into Eni’s activities in Nigeria as well as Algeria.

As reported by Offshore Energy Today, Eni on Tuesday released a statement saying the investigation by the DoJ had been closed “without taking any action.”

However, one part of Eni’s statement on Tuesday did not agree with the Italian prosecutors, which then proceeded to seek clarification from the DoJ. They asked if the decision to close the inquiry was due to lack of evidence, as they said Eni’s statement seemed to imply.

Part of Eni’s original statement on Tuesday:

“Today’s decision by the DoJ confirms the findings of independent advisors, who conducted investigations into the claims following the decision taken by Eni’s controlling bodies, which also found no illegal activity.”

According to a Wednesday report by Reuters, the DoJ clarified that the inquiries had been closed because Italian authorities were prosecuting the case and that if the circumstances changed, the department might reopen its investigations.

Shortly after releasing the statement on Tuesday, Eni issued a second version but with a slightly different wording that removed the part saying the DoJ’s decision confirmed the findings of independent advisors that found no illegal activity.

Instead, in the altered statement, Eni said:

“The company reminds that its controlling committees had outsourced to independent advisors internal investigations which did not reveal any illegal conduct.”

A spokesperson for Eni told Reuters that the original statement had a translation error, and it had been replaced. The spokesperson also told Reuters that the DoJ’s statement about the possibility of re-opening the investigation was in line with standard procedure.

“If the DoJ would decide to reopen its investigation based on events new and unknown, then Eni will cooperate again with the Department to further demonstrate that Eni and its management are not involved in any illegal conduct,” the spokesperson said in an emailed statement to Reuters.

Offshore Energy Today Staff

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