The payment for the Nigerian offshore oil block, Oil Prospecting Licence 245, acquired by the oil majors Eni and Shell were made directly to the Federal Government through transparent means.
The Italian firm, Eni, confirmed this on Wednesday about the Nigerian offshore oil block, Oil Prospecting Licence 245, it jointly acquired the rights with Shell for about $1.3bn but the deal had spawned legal cases spanning several countries.
The OPL 245 is one of the biggest sources of untapped oil reserves on the African continent with reserves estimated at nine billion barrels.
According to reports, Italian prosecutors, on Tuesday, asked for Shell and Eni to be fined and some of their present and former executives, including Eni Chief Executive Officer, Claudio Descalzi, to be jailed in a long-running trial over alleged corruption in Nigeria.
But Eni said on Wednesday that it considered that the public prosecutor’s requests for conviction of the company, its former and current CEOs and the managers involved in the OPL 245 proceeding were completely groundless.
The company said this in a statement titled ‘Nigeria case, Eni: Public prosecutor’s requests for conviction are completely groundless.’
It said, “During its indictment, in the absence of any evidence or tangible reference to the contents of the trial investigation, the public prosecutor has 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 proceedings that have decisively denied the prosecutorial hypothesis.”
According to the statement, defense lawyers are going to show to the court that both Eni and its management’s conducts were correct in the OPL 245 transaction.
It said, “Eni and Shell paid a reasonable price for the license directly to the Nigerian government, as contractually agreed and through transparent and linear means.
“Furthermore, Eni neither knew nor should have been aware of the possible destination of the money subsequently paid by the Nigerian government to Malabu. Moreover, the payment was made after an inquiry carried on by the UK’s Serious Organised Crime Agency.