Italian court has approved the prosecution of Royal Dutch Shell and Eni over allegations of bribery and corruption in the 2011 purchase of OPL 245 oil block, better known as the Malabu oil scandal.
A judge in Milan ordered Eni, Shell and key figures such as Eni chief Claudio Descalzi and his predecessor, Paolo Scaroni to stand trial in proceedings due to begin on March 5.
The companies are accused of corruption in the 2011 purchase of the offshore oil block estimated to hold 9 billion barrels of crude, for $1.3 billion.
Both companies are charged with perpetrating corruption in Nigeria over the deal, which is rumoured to have lined the pockets of Nigeria’s former president Goodluck Jonathan and his oil minister.
Reacting in a statement issued on Wednesday, the Italian firm said, “Eni’s Board of Directors has reaffirmed its confidence that the company was not involved in alleged corrupt activities in relation to the transaction.
“Eni expresses its full confidence in the judicial process and that the trial will ascertain and confirm the correctness and integrity of its conduct,” it said.
The company insisted in particular that “chief executive Claudio Descalzi was not involved in the alleged illegal conduct”.