Richard Ginika Izuora
Appeal court in Milan has rejected Nigeria’s $1.1bn compensation request against Italian energy group Eni and British oil and gas company Shell in civil proceedings relating to a $1.3bn oilfield deal.
The decision was read out in the court on Friday.
In July, prosecutors had dropped related criminal proceedings, clearing Eni and Shell, as well as top managers, including Eni Chief Executive Claudio Descalzi, in one of the global oil industry’s biggest alleged corruption cases.
“We are pleased that these civil proceedings have been dismissed,” Shell said in an emailed comment to the Reuters news agency.
“This follows the Milan criminal tribunal’s finding that there was no case to answer for Shell or its former employees when they were fully acquitted in 2021, a decision that was upheld in July 2022, when criminal proceedings ended,” it added.
Eni had no immediate comment.
The main case revolved around a deal in which Eni and Shell acquired the OPL 245 offshore oilfield in 2011 for $1.3bn, to settle a longstanding dispute over ownership.
Prosecutors alleged that about $1.1bn of the total amount was siphoned off to politicians and middlemen in Nigeria, then Africa’s largest oil producer.
The oil bloc was initially owned by a local company where controversial former Petroleum Minister Dan Etete had major stakes.
A lawyer representing Nigeria in the proceedings added the country was still deciding whether to appeal the decision at Italy’s top administrative court.
Documents explaining the reasons behind Friday’s decision will be made available in 90 days.