NIGERIA: Eni Terms Public Prosecutor’s requests for Conviction as Groundless

Eni has said it considers that the Public Prosecutor’s requests for conviction of the Company, its former and current CEOs and the managers involved in the Opl245 proceeding are completely groundless.

The company says the indictment, in the absence of any evidence or tangible reference to the contents of the trial investigation, the Public Prosecutor  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,” Eni said in a statement adding that it will  show to the Court that the company and its management’s conducts were correct in the Opl245 transaction.

It adds that together with Shell they paid a reasonable price for the license directly to the Nigerian Government, as contractually agreed and through transparent and linear means. The Italian company adds it neither knew nor should have been aware of the possible destination of the money subsequently paid by the Nigerian government to Malabu adding that the payment was made after an inquiry carried on by the UK’s Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA).

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

Eni recalls the decision of the Department of Justice and the US SEC, which decided to close its own investigations without taking any action against the company. The multiple internal investigations entrusted to international third parties by the company’s supervisory bodies have long since highlighted the absence of unlawful conduct.

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

The Nigerian authorities have accused the Italian Giant and Royal Dutch Shell of being part of a bribes and kickbacks scandal that saw a $1.1 billion payment to acquire the oil block in 2011 diverted to for personal enrichment. Earlier this year a London court ruled it had no jurisdiction to try the case as it involved the same facts in another criminal case in Italy.

In 2010 the Securities and Exchange Commission fined  ENI, S.p.A. and its former Dutch subsidiary Snamprogetti Netherlands B.V. with multiple violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) in a bribery scheme that included deliveries of cash-filled briefcases and vehicles to Nigerian government officials to win construction contracts. Snamprogetti and ENI were to pay $125 million to settle the SEC’s charges, and Snamprogetti would pay an additional $240 million penalty to settle separate criminal proceedings.

Shell and Eni have denied any wrongdoing.