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Shell, Eni trial in Italy over Nigeria oil industry bribe scandal begins March 2018

Italian giant Eni and fellow petroleum company Shell will stand trial in Italy over allegations of bribery and corruption in the 2011 purchase of an offshore oil block in Nigeria.

A judge in Milan ordered Eni, Shell and key figures such as Eni chief Claudio Descalzi and his predecessor Paolo Scaroni to stand trial in

Legal fireworks and proceedings against Italian giant, Eni and Royal Dutch Shell will commence from March 5, 2018 in Italy.

Investigations bordering on the matter by Italian government raised issues on allegations of bribery and corruption in the 2011 in purchase of an offshore oil block in Nigeria.

Otherwise, both firms are accused of corruption in the 2011 purchase of OPL245, an offshore oil block estimated to hold 9 billion barrels of crude, for $1.3 billion.

The Italian firm said in a statement averred that “Eni’s Board of Directors has reaffirmed its confidence that the company was not involved in alleged corrupt activities in relation to the transaction.

“Eni expresses its full confidence in the judicial process and that the trial will ascertain and confirm the correctness and integrity of its conduct,” it said.

Continuing, Eni noted that “chief executive Claudio Descalzi was not involved in the alleged illegal conduct”.

It would be recalled that both companies were charged with corruption in Nigeria over the deal, which allegedly saw Nigeria’s former president Goodluck Jonathan and his oil minister pocket bribes even though the companies had at different times, repeatedly maintained that they acquired the rights to the lucrative block in line with Nigerian law.

Analysts say many Nigerian politicians may be fingered during the trial.