By TAYO ELEGBEDE
After two years and more than 40 hearing proceedings of the popular Malabu scandal, Eni has gathered fresh hopes that the truth can finally be re-established following the defensive arguments that will be presented at the end of September, pending the Milan Court’s forthcoming verdict.
According to them, the defense lawyers are going to show to the Court that both Eni and its management’s conducts were correct in the Opl245 transaction,
and that Eni and Shell paid a reasonable price for the license directly to the Nigerian Government, as contractually agreed and through transparent and linear means.
Hence, there can’t be bribes from Eni in Nigeria, no existence of an Eni scandal, since Eni neither knew nor should have been aware of the possible destination of the money subsequently paid by the Nigerian government to Malabu. after an inquiry carried on by the UK’s Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA).
Eni considers that the Public Prosecutor’s requests for conviction of the Company, its former and current Chief Executive Officers ( CEOs) and the managers involved in the Opl245 proceeding are completely groundless because during its indictment, the Public Prosecutor has told a story based on suggestions and deductions as already developed during the investigation and this is due to the absence of any evidence or tangible reference to the investigations.
This narrative, Eni noted ignores both the witnesses and the files presented within the two years long and more than 40 hearings proceeding, which have decisively denied the prosecutorial hypothesis.
Eni recalls the decision of the Department of Justice and the US SEC, which decided to close its own investigations without taking any action against the company., and the multiple internal investigations entrusted to international third parties by the company’s supervisory bodies have long since highlighted the absence of unlawful conduct.
Remember that in 2011, Eni and Shell with their current and former executives faced corruption charges linked to the Malabu scandal, a deal involving a Nigerian oil block known as OPL 245.
It was however alleged that the oil majors used most of the $1.1 billion for bribes and kickbacks to government officials after Eni and Shell lay claims of payment to Nigerian government accounts in the UK.
The money was then alleged to have been transferred from the government’s account to Malabu, a company then controlled by then Nigeria’s petroleum minister, Dan Etete.