Nigeria appeals acquittal of Shell, Eni, others in $1.1bn Malabu oil scandal

Nigeria appeals acquittal of Shell, Eni, others in $1.1bn Malabu oil scandal

Nigeria has appealed the acquittal of oil majors, Eni and Shell, including a number of past and present managers of both firms in the Malabu oil scandal.

The long-drawn messy scandal involved the 2011 acquisition of OPL 245 offshore oilfield by Eni and Shell.

Both firms had been accused of illegally acquiring the oilfield and bribing a number of Nigerian officials. However, a Milan court had acquitted the two companies and defendants in March 2021; in what Reuters describes as the oil industry’s biggest corruption case.

Prosecutors alleged that just under $1.1 billion of that amount was siphoned off to politicians and middlemen, Reuters says.

Nigeria had expressed shock and disappointment at the ruling; even as the Federal Government had disclosed at the time that it would consider appealing the acquittal. Also, Italian prosecutors had frowned at the judgment; even as they confirmed they would be joining Nigeria in the appeal.

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But the Milan court had ruled that the suspects had no case to answer and acquitted all of them.

Meanwhile, Eni has acknowledged the appeal by the prosecutors and Nigerian government.

“Waiting to read the reasons for the appeal; Eni confirms its total extraneousness to the contested facts,” a spokesperson for the company was quoted by Reuters as saying.

In June 2021, two of the prosecutors in the case were placed under official investigation by Italy’s magistrates. The duo was accused of allegedly failing to file documents that would have supported Eni’s position.

Consequently, Italy’s Ministry of Justice had ordered an inquiry into the conduct of the two prosecutors.

A number of Nigerians were fingered in the messy oil scandal; including a former Minister of Petroleum, Dan Etete, among others. The case, which dragged on for years, had seen Nigeria push for punitive action against the defendants.

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