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Italian Prosecutors Want Trial For Eni Over Alleged Corruption In Nigeria

Italian prosecutors asked on Wednesday for Italian oil major Eni SpA (NYSE:E), its chief executive Claudio Descalzi, and 10 other people to be sent to trial over charges of alleged international corruption, according to judicial sources.

According to Italian daily La Stampa, prosecutors in Milan asked today for trial for Descalzi, Eni’s former CEO Paolo Scaroni, and other people - including managers and mediators - over alleged payment of US$1.3 billion in bribes to the former Nigerian government back in 2011, for which Eni and Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE:RDS.A) secured exclusive rights to develop the oil block OPL-245 offshore Nigeria.

The prosecutors also ask for the companies, Eni and Shell, to be sent to trial under the Italian legislation that companies are liable for crimes committed by directors and executives when a suspected unlawful conduct has benefited the legal entity.

According to the prosecutors, back in 2011 Eni had allegedly paid US$1.092 billion and Shell – another US$200 million to a current account of the Nigerian government.

At the time of those events, Descalzi was a manager at Eni and was named chief executive in May 2014.

According to La Stampa, Descalzi was questioned two times as part of the investigation and has always denied any wrongdoing.

Related: It’s Time For Big Oil To Embrace The Digital Age

According to Corriere della Sera, now a preliminary hearing judge in Milan has to decide whether to send to trial any of the people or companies cited and suggested by the prosecutors.

A few months ago, Eni, oil services group Saipem and former Eni CEO Scaroni were sent to trial over bribes Saipem had allegedly paid in Algeria a few years ago in order to obtain oil and gas contracts.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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