The last has not been heard of Malabu’s OPL-245 money trail, as Italian prosecutors have requested Italian court to send to jail the chief executive officer of En Claudio Descalzi, Paolo Scaroni, his predecessor, former Nigerian petroleum minister, Dan Etete and Shell’s former head of exploration and production, Malcolm Brinded in the ongoing Oil Prospecting License, OPL 245 case in Italy.
Prosecutors reportedly requested in their closing arguments in Milan, alleging that nearly all of the $1.3bn Shell and Eni paid in 2011 for the OPL 245 offshore oil block was bribe money for businessmen, middlemen and Nigerian officials, particularly Dan Etete, Nigeria’s former oil minister, who owned the block, according to a report by Financial Times.
The public prosecutors are requesting an eight-year prison sentence for Descalzi, requesting to confiscate up to $1.1bn in fines from defendants including the oil major and Royal Dutch Shell.
They also want a 10-year sentence for Mr. Etete, along with eight-year sentences for Descalzi, Scaroni, and an 88-month sentence for Shell’s Brinded.
In his closing argument of the two-year trial, prosecutor Fabio De Pasquale cited emails and testimony that he said proved that Shell, Eni and some of their most senior executives knew that most of the money they paid for OPL 245 went towards bribes.
The oil companies deny any wrongdoing in the case, which allegedly involved payouts to several Nigerian oil ministers and attorneys-general with the knowledge of senior executives including Mr. Descalzi. All the officials and executives have denied the allegations.
Shell said the company did “not believe that there is a basis to convict Shell or any of its former employees in Milan”.
Eni, in a statement to SweetcrudeReports on Wednesday said it considered the requests for conviction of the company’s former and current executives “completely groundless”.
“During its indictment, in the absence of any evidence or tangible reference to the contents of the trial investigation, the Public Prosecutor has told a story based on suggestions and deductions as already developed during the investigation. This narrative ignores both the witnesses and the files presented within the two years long and more than 40 hearings proceeding, that have decisively denied the prosecutorial hypothesis