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    Italian Prosecutors Seek Jail Time for Eni CEO: Press


Eni and Shell are accused of knowing that most of the $1.3bn they paid for a Nigerian oilfield in 2011 would be dispersed in bribes.

by: Joseph Murphy

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Italian Prosecutors Seek Jail Time for Eni CEO: Press

Italian prosecutors have asked for eight years of jail time for Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi, in a long-running trial over alleged graft in Nigeria, Bloomberg and other outlets reported on July 21.

Prosecutors in a Milan court are also seeking seven years and four months of imprisonment for Shell's former upstream head Malcom Brinded. According to Reuters, they have also asked both oil majors to be fined €900,000 ($1.04mn) and for a total of $1.09bn to be seized from all defendants in the case.

The Milan court is expected to reach a verdict later this year. The defence's arguments will be presented at the end of September.

Eni and Shell acquired Nigerian oilfield OPL-245 in 2011 for $1.3bn, but prosecutors allege that they knew that most of the purchase price would be dispersed in bribes. Under a separate investigation, Eni executives stand accused of trying to obstruct justice by discrediting prosecution witnesses.

Several other former executives of Eni and Shell are also on trial, with prosecutors seeking eight years for Eni's ex-CEO Paolo Scaroni. The companies and individuals have consistently denied any wrongdoing. 

In a statement on July 21, Eni said that the prosecutors' requests for convictions were "completely groundless."

"Defence lawyers are going to show the court that both Eni and its management's conducts were correct in the OPL-245 transaction," the company said. Eni and Shell paid "a reasonable purchase price directly to the Nigerian government, as contractually agreed and through transparent and linear means," it said. Eni "neither knew, nor should have been aware" of what happened to the funds after that.

"So there can therefore be no bribes from Eni in Nigeria, no existence of an Eni scandal," the major said, noting that the US department of justice had closed its own probe without taking any action against the company.

Shell was not immediately available to comment on the matter.