Eni and Royal Dutch Shell have been acquitted of corruption charges in the purchase of a Nigerian oilfield.
The long-running case revolves around the purchase of the OPL 245 offshore oilfield in Nigeria in 2011 from Malabu Oil and Gas, a company owned by former Minister of Petroleum Dan Etete. If you missed the initial story, read here.
In what is said to be the oil industry’s biggest corruption trial, Italian prosecutors had alleged corruption in the deal. Campaigners had also claimed that the Nigerian government was short-changed in the $1.3 billion deal which took place ten years ago.
Asides asking for $1.1 billion to be confiscated from the defendants, prosecutors had also urged the Milan court to fine Eni and Shell and also jail a number of past and present managers from both firms including Claudio Descalzi, Eni’s chief executive.
However after 74 hearings in more than 3 years, the court in Milan has now ruled that Shell and Eni are not guilty of the the charges.
Ben van Beurden, chief executive officer of Shell who reacted to the judgement said the oil-giant had always maintained that the 2011 purchase of OPL 245 was legal and designed to resolve a decade-long dispute over its ownership.
Eni on the other hand stated that the acquittal showed the company and its chief executive had behaved lawfully and properly.