An Italian federal judge has approved the prosecution of Royal Dutch Shell and Italian giant, Eni over the $1.3 billion controversial sales of OPL 245 oil block.
The judge also ordered that Eni executive, Claudio Descalzi, and his predecessor, Paolo Scaroni, should be tried for their role in bribery and corruption scandal.
The trial is expected to commence on March 5, 2018, Italian media reports said Wednesday, December 20.
Reacting to the judgment, the Italian firm said: “Eni’s Board of Directors has reaffirmed its confidence that the company was not involved in alleged corrupt activities in relation to the transaction.
“Eni expresses its full confidence in the judicial process and that the trial will ascertain and confirm the correctness and integrity of its conduct,” the Italian firm said in a statement Wednesday.
Eni noted in particular that its “chief executive Claudio Descalzi was not involved in the alleged illegal conduct”.
Similarly, Shell said in a statement: “We are disappointed by the outcome of the preliminary hearing and the decision to indict Shell and its former employees. We believe the trial judges will conclude that there is no case against Shell or its former employees.
“Shell attaches the greatest importance to business integrity. It’s one of our core values and is a central tenet of the Business Principles that govern the way we do business. Shell has clear rules on anti-bribery and corruption and these are included in our Code of Conduct for all staff. There is no place for bribery or corruption in our company”, the statement added.
Italian prosecutors had earlier indicted Shell and Agip for their role in the 2011 deal in which Nigeria sold the lucrative oil block to the two oil majors during the Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.
Nigerians indicted in the deal, which was approved by former Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan include a former petroleum minister, Dan Etete, and a former Attorney-General, Bello Adoke.
Similarly, Shell and Eni’s Nigerian subsidiary, Agip, are among those already being prosecuted in Nigeria.
Written by Joe Ogbodu