Italy: Eni and Shell companies start trial, accused of corruption

The eagerly awaited trail of oil and gas company Eni and Shell opens on Monday (March 5th) in Milan.

Justice suspects they have paid bribes to be awarded a contract for an offshore block in Nigeria.

The case is called OPL-245, as the offshore oil concession in the heart of the alleged scandal, one of the most promising in Africa with its reserves estimated at nine billion barrels of crude oil.

Out-of-the-ordinary, like the trial that opens this Monday in Milan.

In the box of the accused are the CEO of Eni, Claudio Descalzi, and the director of explorations of Shell, Malcolm Brinded.

Significantly, the two companies, leaders in the industry, appear as legal persons.

Italian justice suspects they have paid more than a billion dollars to be awarded the famous block.

A sum of which much would have gone to  Dan Etete, a former minister of oil under the regime of Sani Abacha whose company would have served to receive the cash.

This protagonist has already been sentenced in Nigeria as part of President Buhari’s anti-corruption efforts.

He is appearing again this Monday in Milan. The issue at stake will be whether, and when, Shell and Eni knew that the millions of dollars in the transaction destined for Nigerian state coffers went to feed the corruption of local officials.

Exchanges of emails exhumed by the British NGO Global Witness seem to accredit it. But the two oil majors have always denied any corruption.

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