Nigeria Files $1.1 Billion Lawsuit Against Shell, Eni Over Oil Deal
The lawsuits over disputed oilfield, OPL 245 is far from over.
On Thursday, Nigeria joined the fray as the Nigerian government officially filed a $1.1 billion lawsuit against Royal Dutch Shell and Eni in a commercial court in London in relation to the 2011 oilfield deal.
The much talked about OPL 245 oilfield is already at the heart of an ongoing corruption trial in Milan, Italy in which former and current Shell and Eni officials are on the bench.
Milan prosecutors allege bribes totaling around $1.1 billion were paid to win the licence to explore the field which, because of disputes, has never entered production.
The new London case also relates to payments made by the companies to get the OPL 245 oilfield licence in 2011.
“It is alleged that purchase monies purportedly paid to the Federal Republic of Nigeria were in fact immediately paid through to a company controlled by Dan Etete, formerly the Nigerian minister of petroleum, and used for, amongst other things, bribes and kickbacks,” Nigeria said in the court document cited by Reuters on Thursday.
“Accordingly, it is alleged that Shell and Eni engaged in bribery and unlawful conspiracy to harm the Federal Republic of Nigeria and that they dishonestly assisted corrupt Nigerian government officials.”
Shell has reacted, saying: “The 2011 settlement of long-standing legal disputes related to OPL 245 was a fully legal transaction with Eni and the Federal Government of Nigeria, represented by the most senior officials of the relevant ministries.”
Eni said in an emailed statement it rejected “any allegation of impropriety or irregularity in connection with this transaction”.
This is not the first suit the government is filing in connection with the oilfield deal.
The government has already filed a London case against U.S. bank, JPMorgan for its role in transferring over $800 million of government funds to Etete, who has been convicted of money laundering.
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