Saturday, June 12, 2021

ENI absolves self of wrongdoing in $1.6bn Malabu oil deal


Jaafar Jaafar
Jaafar Jaafar is a graduate of Mass Communication from Bayero University, Kano. He was a reporter at Daily Trust, an assistant editor at Premium Times and now the editor-in-chief of Daily Nigerian.
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By Mustapha Hodio

The Board of Directors of Eni (Nigeria Agip Exploration Limited) said the transactions which resulted in the auctioning of $1,616,690,656.78 Malabu oil block were not fraudulent.

In January, a report by AFP claims that former Nigerian president, Goodluck Jonathan and his oil minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, were allegedly given bribe of $466million in the $1.3 billion deal involving ENI and Royal Dutch Shell.

The deal saw ENI and Shell making a $1.3 billion payment in 2011 for an offshore oil block in Nigeria.

Court documents filed December 2016 in Milan outline a case against 11 people, including senior executives from Eni and Shell as well as the companies themselves.

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Claudio Descalzi, ENI chief executive and his predecessor Paolo Scaroni, were said to have met with Jonathan to thrash out the deal “in person”.

The prosecutors allege that ENI and Shell executives worked with Dan Etete, the oil minister during the military administration of Sani Abacha.

The former president had denied involvement in the deal.

But the oil firm said it based its position on the outcome of forensic investigations into the block.

It disclosed that an independent US law firm conducted the investigations and returned a not-guilty verdict.

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The investigations were conducted by an independent US law firm and were commissioned by Eni’s Board of Statutory Auditors and Watch Structure.

The statement said: “Eni’s Board of Directors today takes note of the outcome of further forensic investigations into the 2011 transaction between Eni and Shell and the Nigerian Government for the acquisition of the OPL 245 licence in Nigeria.

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“The investigations examined the new materials and further information filed by the Milan prosecutors as part of the closure of the investigation in December 2016.

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“The law firm confirms the conclusions reached by previous investigations in 2015, stating that there is no evidence of corrupt conduct in relation to the transaction.

Eni’s Board of Directors confirmed its total confidence that neither the company nor its CEO Claudio Descalzi were involved in alleged illicit conduct under investigation.

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