According to media reports on December 20, 2017, Eni and Shell will stand trial over a corruption charge related to alleged offenses over the acquisition of the Oil Prospecting Licence (OPL) 245 in Nigeria in 2011.
Eni said that the preliminary hearing judge at the court of Milan made a decision to «send the company, its CEO and a number of managers to trial on a charge of international corruption related to the acquisition, in 2011, of a stake in the OPL 245 license in Nigeria.» Shell too confirmed that the judge remanded it to trial for the OPL 245 case.
Responding to the court decision, Eni’s board has reiterated its belief that the company was not involved in alleged corrupt activities in relation to the transaction.
Eni’s board further said it was confident that its CEO Claudio Descalzi was not involved in the alleged illegal conduct and, more broadly, in his role as head of the company.
«Eni expresses its full confidence in the judicial process and that the trial will ascertain and confirm the correctness and integrity of its conduct,» Eni said.
Reuters has reported that apart from the companies, the judge has set a March 5 trial date for a group of current and former executives, including Claudio Descalzi, Eni’s chief executive, and Malcolm Brinded, a former chief of exploration and production for Shell.
Eni and Shell jointly bought the block in question 2011 for more than $1 billion. 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.