BY EMEKA EJERE
In what may not be unconnected with the untidy and questionable manner in which the corruption case involving oil and gas giants, Eni (ENI.MI) and Shell (RDSa.L) in Nigeria was handled by the prosecutors, the Italian Ministry of Justice has ordered an investigation of the conduct of two prosecutors in the case.
The Milan prosecutors, Fabio De Pasquale and Sergio Spadaro were earlier this month, placed under official investigation by magistrates for allegedly not filing documents that would have supported Eni’s position.
This was disclosed in a statement issued by the Italian Ministry of Justice, on Tuesday, in which it said that it had decided to move in the wake of the judicial investigation and criticism of the two prosecutors by the trial judges.
The Justice Ministry in its statement said, “The ministry has asked the inspectorate to carry out preliminary investigations to correctly reconstruct the facts by acquiring the necessary documents.’’
Recall that in March 2021, an Italian court in Milan acquitted the two oil giants along with a series of past and present managers including Eni Chief Executive Claudio Descalzi of corruption charges, involving $1.1 billion payment in the oil industry’s biggest corruption scandal.
While pointing out that the oil firms and defendants had been acquitted as there was no case to answer, the judge equally said that court judgements in Italy are subject to appeal and only become enforceable once they are final.
Earlier, a United Kingdom (UK) court, on May 22, 2020, dismissed the same lawsuit instituted by the Federal Government against Royal Dutch Shell and Eni, with respect to a dispute over the OPL 245 oil field as the UK judge in charge of the case said that the UK court did not have jurisdiction to try the lawsuit.
The long-running case revolved around the $1.3 billion purchase by Eni and Shell of the OPL 245 offshore oilfield in Nigeria in 2011 from Malabu Oil and Gas, a company owned by the former Nigerian oil minister, Dan Etete.