Nigeria filed a case in a Milan court on Wednesday to order Eni and Royal Dutch Shell to immediately pay $1.092 billion in advance for damages it claims in one of the biggest oil industry corruption trials in history.
In a hearing on the alleged bribery in connection with Eni and Shell’s acquisition of OPL 245 camp in 2011, Nigerian government lawyer Lucio Lucia demanded a guilty verdict and an advance payment before the court establishes a larger compensation package at a later date.
Lucio did not specify how much Nigeria is asking for in total as compensation, but said the controversial agreement has deprived the Nigerian government of “oil profit,” adding: “These are large sums.
The lawyer said that the profits lost in two different scenarios were 4.5 billion dollars and 5.9 billion dollars respectively.
The prolonged case of corruption involves the purchase of the offshore OPL 245 field, about 150 km from the Niger Delta, for about $1.3 billion from Malabu, a company owned by former Nigerian oil minister Dan Etete.
Prosecutors claim that about $1.1 billion of this was diverted to politicians and intermediaries, half of it to Etete himself.
Shell says the 2011 agreement was an agreement to resolve long-term legal disputes after the Nigerian government had previously assigned the block to Shell and Malabu.
Etete, Eni, Shell and the executives accused in the Milan trial, including Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi, denied any wrongdoing.
Eni stated on Wednesday, in a statement, that the purchase price of the OPL 245 was “consistent and reasonable” considering the value of the field and the investments needed to put it into production.
In July, the prosecution in this case demanded the imposition of a fine on Eni and Shell and the arrest of some of their current and former executives, including Enis Descalzi.
They also demanded the seizure of a total of $1.092 billion from all defendants in this case, the equivalent of bribes that would have been paid.
The next trial hearing is scheduled for September 21, when the defense will present its case.