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22 Dec 2017

Italy: Shell & Eni to stand trial over role in massive bribery scheme related to $1.3bn oil deal in Nigeria

In December 2017, an Italian judge has ordered Royal Dutch Shell and Eni to stand trial on charges of aggravated international corruption for their role in a 2011 $1.1bn deal for Nigerian oil block OPL 245, known to be the largest untapped oil field on the continent. Eni'd current CEO, former CEO and a chief operations and technology officer, as well as four Royal Dutch Shell staff members were also ordered to face trial.The judge set March 5 as the date for the trial to begin.

The Milan public prosecutor's investigation followed a complaint filed in 2013 by Global Witness, The Corner House, Re:Common and Nigerian anti-corruption campaigner Dotun Oloko. The case has also been investigated in Nigeria and the United States, and public prosecutors in The Netherlands are also investigating the case.

In April 2017, Global Witness and Finance Uncovered published a report alleging that Shell and Eni participated in a vast bribery scheme for OPL 245, and that top executives at Shell knew that money paid as part of the deal would end up in the hands of a convicted money launderer and former oil minister of the country, Dan Etete, who had awarded the oil block to his own company, Malabu Oil & Gas in 1998. According to Global Witness and Finance Uncovered, the deal, fraught with corruption, deprived the Nigerian people of $1.1billion, an amount worth more than Nigeria’s entire health budget for 2016.