Italian oil giant Eni is adamant it did nothing wrong when it, together with Shell, bought a stake in the OPL 245 field in Nigeria back in 2011.
To remind, according to reports from February, Italian prosecutors have charged Eni and its CEO Claudio Descalzi with international corruption over the controversial 2011 offshore block acquisition in Nigeria.
Apart from Descalzi, the charge reportedly extends to the former CEO Paolo Scaroni and nine other people involved in the $1.3 billion deal. Scaroni served as the Chief Executive Officer of Eni from June 2005 to May 2014, when he was succeeded by Descalzi.
Following the reported charges, Eni said it “confirms its total confidence that Eni is entirely free of any involvement in the alleged corrupt conduct subject to investigation.”
Eni and Shell jointly bought the block in 2011 for more than one billion U.S. dollars. In 2014, the Milan Prosecutor’s office launched an investigation to see where the payment went and whether Eni and Shell knew, as it has been alleged that the money didn’t end up in the state coffers but was passed on further to the former oil minister Dan Etete.
The OPL 245 licence had been owned by Malabu oil company, allegedly secretly owned by Etete. The allegations are that the Nigerian government gave the license to Shell and Eni for more than a billion dollars, and then passed the cash further to Malabu, that is, Etete.
Both Eni and Shell have been denying any wrongdoing ever since the start of the investigation.
To remind, a Nigerian court in Abuja in on January 26, 2017 gave an order ceding control of the OPL 245 block, to the Federal Government “pending investigation and prosecution of suspects” in the $1.1 billion deal.
According to Eni, The court order does not revoke the license but restricts temporarily Eni’s ability to dispose of and manage the property, pending the conclusion of the investigation into alleged corruption and money laundering in respect of the acquisition of the license. Eni and Shell have made an application to discharge the order.
Eni said its management believed that the company may possibly accede not only to jurisdictional remedies provided by Nigerian laws but also to arbitration remedies provided by international treaties for the protection of investments.
In a statement on Wednesday, Eni’s Board of Directors said that further forensic investigations into the 2011 transaction between Eni and Shell and the Nigerian Government for the acquisition of the OPL 245 license in Nigeria have been completed.
The investigations were conducted by an independent US law firm, commissioned by Eni’s Board of Statutory Auditors and Watch Structure, Eni added.
“The investigations examined the new materials and further information filed by the Milan prosecutors as part of the closure of the investigation in December 2016. The law firm confirms the conclusions reached by previous investigations in 2015, stating that there is no evidence of corrupt conduct in relation to the transaction.
Eni’s Board of Directors confirmed its total confidence that neither the Company or its CEO Claudio Descalzi were involved in alleged illicit conduct under investigation,” Eni said.
Offshore Energy Today Staff