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Oil majors Royal Dutch Shell and Eni SpA are reiterating that neither the companies nor any of their staff have been involved in any wrongdoing while securing the rights to an oil license block offshore Nigeria back in 2011.
According to a joint investigation by BuzzFeed News and Italian business daily Il Sole 24 Ore published on Sunday, Shell’s top managers were aware that part of the $1.3 billion that Shell and Eni had paid to obtain the oil deal would go a front company linked to former Nigerian oil minister Dan Etete. Documents that BuzzFeed and Il Sole 24 Ore have obtained also show that Shell employees knew and discussed the possibility that Etete could use the payment to pay bribes.
The BBC reported on Monday that it had seen evidence that top managers at Shell knew that money paid to the Nigerian government would be passed onto Etete.
A Shell spokesman told BuzzFeed and Il Sole in a statement:
“Based on our review of the Prosecutor of Milan’s file and all of the information and facts available to Shell, we do not believe that there is a basis to prosecute Shell. Furthermore, we are not aware of any evidence to support a case against any former or current Shell employee.”
An Eni spokesman, in turn, said:
“ENI and Shell are fully cooperating with the relevant authorities in Italy and in Nigeria. We shall continue to cooperate with relevant authorities in the investigations and continue to underscore the fact that ENI and its personnel have not been involved in any wrongdoing.”
In February, Italian prosecutors asked for Eni and its chief executive Claudio Descalzi, as well as Shell and 10 other people to be sent to trial over charges of alleged international corruption. Eni said back then that its board of directors “confirms its total confidence that Eni is entirely free of any involvement in the alleged corrupt conduct subject to investigation”.
Later in February, Eni said that an independent US law firm—commissioned by Eni’s board—confirmed the conclusions reached by previous investigations in 2015, stating that “there is no evidence of corrupt conduct in relation to the transaction.”
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.