Court rejects Nigeria’s $1.1bn damages request against Eni, Shell

 An appeal court in Milan has rejected Nigeria’s $1.1bn compensation request against Italian energy group, Eni, and British oil and gas company, Shell, in civil proceedings relating to a $1.3bn oilfield deal.

The decision was read out in the court on Friday.

In July, prosecutors had dropped related criminal proceedings, clearing Eni and Shell, as well as top managers, including Eni’s Chief Executive, Claudio Descalzi, in one of the global oil industry’s biggest alleged corruption cases.

“We are pleased that these civil proceedings have been dismissed,” Shell said in an emailed comment to the Reuters news agency.

“This follows the Milan criminal tribunal’s finding that there was no case to answer for Shell or its for­mer employees when they were fully acquitted in 2021, a decision that was upheld in July 2022, when crim­inal proceedings ended,” it added. Eni had no immediate comment.

The main case revolved around a deal in which Eni and Shell acquired the OPL 245 offshore oilfield in 2011 for $1.3bn to settle a long­standing dispute over ownership.

Prosecutors alleged that about $1.1bn of the total amount was siphoned off to politicians and middlemen in Nigeria, then Africa’s largest oil producer.

The oil bloc was initially owned by a local company where contro­versial former Petroleum Minister, Dan Etete, had major stakes.

A lawyer representing Nigeria in the proceedings added the country was still deciding whether to appeal the decision at Italy’s top adminis­trative court. Documents explaining the reasons behind Friday’s decision will be made available in 90 days.

Four widows seeking to hold Shell liable for damages in the Neth­erlands after their anti-oil activist husbands were executed by the Nigerian government in 1995, have cancelled further legal proceedings, their lawyer has said.

Obviously, this is not without disappointment and frustration,” said lawyer Channa Samkalden in statement on Monday, announcing that the widows have cancelled an appeal launched after the Hague District Court rejected their case earlier this year. —Reuters

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