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Shell, Eni deny allegations of improper payment in Nigeria

On Monday Royal Dutch Shell and Eni reiterated that neither they nor their personnel had been involved in any unfair treatment in Nigeria, including improper payments to Nigerian officials.

The comments came shortly after media reports alleging that hundreds of millions of dollars from both companies were used for illicit payments.

On Sunday a joint investigation by BuzzFeed News and Italian newspaper II Sole 24 Ore claimed to show transactions worth $1.3 billion made between the years 2010-2011 that Shell and Eni allegedly paid to acquire an exploration license for an offshore oil block known as OPL 245.

Although the money was paid to the Nigerian government, BuzzFeed and II Sole claim documents showed Shell’s top executives at the time knew those funds would go to Malabu Oil and Gas, a front-running company connected to former Nigerian oil minister Dan Etete.

Attempts by Reuters to contact Etete have been unsuccessful.

In emailed comments, a spokesman for Eni said the allegations in the reports were not supported by facts, the underlying agreements or the independent investigations conducted to date.

“Based on our review of the Prosecutor of Milan’s file and all of the information and facts available to Shell, we do not believe that there is a basis to prosecute Shell. Furthermore, we are not aware of any evidence to support a case against any former or current Shell employee”, said Shell.

Shell also added, in an emailed statement, that if evidence proves improper payments were made, “it is Shell’s position that none of those payments were made with its knowledge, authorization or on its behalf.”

Courts in Nigeria and Milan are investigating the purchase of the block, made in 2011, which industry figures suggest could possibly hold over 9 billion barrels of oil.

Italian prosecutors are working with an anti-fraud team in the Netherlands that raided Shell’s The Hague headquarters in February last year in relation to the investigation. A Nigerian court ordered the asset temporarily seized in January at the request of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, however, the seizure was later overturned.

Article written by HEI contributor Lydia Ezeakor.

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