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OPL 245: Eni Slams Italian Prosecutor Seeking Conviction Of Its Executives

Italian oil giant, Eni SpA on Tuesday hit back at the Italian public prosecutor’s requests for the conviction of its former and current chief executives and the managers involved with the OPL245 licence transaction in Nigeria, calling them “completely groundless”.

The case relates to payments in 2011 allegedly paid by Royal Dutch Shell Plc, alongside Italian peer Eni, totalling USD1.10 billion to a company secretly-owned by a former oil minister, who had granted his company rights to the oil field in the 1990s.

“During its indictment, in the absence of any evidence or tangible reference to the contents of the trial investigation, the Public Prosecutor has told a story based on suggestions and deductions as already developed during the investigation. This narrative ignores both the witnesses and the files presented within the two years long and more than 40 hearings proceeding, that have decisively denied the prosecutorial hypothesis,” said Eni.

The Italian oil and gas firm and London-listed Shell paid a “reasonable price” for the license directly to the Nigerian government, Eni said.

Eni continued: “Furthermore, Eni neither knew nor should have been aware of the possible destination of the money subsequently paid by the Nigerian government to Malabu. Moreover, the payment was made after an inquiry carried on by the UK’s Serious Organised Crime Agency.”

“So there can therefore be no bribes from Eni in Nigeria, no existence of an Eni scandal,” it added.

Eni “trusts that the truth can finally be re-established” following the defence arguments that will be presented at the end of September, pending the Milan Court’s forthcoming verdict.

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