FACTBOX-Legal cases sparked by Nigerian OPL 245 oilfield licence
Below is a list of legal actions that have arisen from the award of OPL 245: * Some key issues related to the OPL 245 case came to light in two separate civil suits https://www.reuters.com/article/eni-shell-nigeria-corruption/rpt-dont-neglect-to-pay-the-middleman-how-shell-and-eni-ended-up-on-trial-idUSL5N1SS0JM filed shortly after the 2011 deal by a Nigerian, Emeka Obi, and a former Russian diplomat, Ednan Agaev, who said they were owed millions of dollars by a Nigerian company, Malabu Oil and Gas, for arranging meetings with Shell and Eni in relation to the licence, court filings showed.Reuters | Updated: 12-11-2020 20:09 IST | Created: 12-11-2020 20:09 IST
One of the oil industry's biggest court cases over alleged corruption in Nigeria involves an offshore oilfield licence known as OPL 245, which Royal Dutch Shell and Italy's Eni bought in 2011. Italian prosecutors allege that most of the payment for the licence was siphoned off to politicians and middlemen.
Shell and Eni and the managers accused in the Milan court case, including Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi, have all denied any wrongdoing. Below is a list of legal actions that have arisen from the award of OPL 245:
* Some key issues related to the OPL 245 case came to light in two separate civil suits https://www.reuters.com/article/eni-shell-nigeria-corruption/rpt-dont-neglect-to-pay-the-middleman-how-shell-and-eni-ended-up-on-trial-idUSL5N1SS0JM filed shortly after the 2011 deal by a Nigerian, Emeka Obi, and a former Russian diplomat, Ednan Agaev, who said they were owed millions of dollars by a Nigerian company, Malabu Oil and Gas, for arranging meetings with Shell and Eni in relation to the licence, court filings showed. Obi was awarded at least $100 million for his work as a "dealmaker", the court records showed. Agaev reached an out-of-court settlement. * Nigeria filed a case in London against U.S. bank JPMorgan for its role in transferring more than $800 million of government funds to Malabu. JPMorgan acknowledged https://www.reuters.com/article/nigeria-oil-jpmorgan/jp-morgan-says-it-knew-ex-minister-linked-to-firm-in-nigeria-oilfield-deal-idUSL5N1RH5K6 it knew a former Nigerian oil minister Dan Etete would benefit when it transferred the funds to the company, according to a court document seen by Reuters in April 2018. JP Morgan has said it considers the allegations against it "unsubstantiated and without merit." Etete has denied the charges.
* In May 2018, Nigerian civil rights group Human & Environmental Development Agenda launched a legal case aimed at forcing the government to revoke the award of OPL 245. * In May 2018, the main trial in Milan started, in which Eni Chief Executive Claudio Descalzi, former Shell exploration chief Malcolm Brinded and 11 other defendants, as well as the two companies, were accused by Italian prosecutors of paying bribes to secure the licence. All the accused denied wrongdoing.
* In September 2018, in a separate trial in Milan, Emeka Obi and Italian Gianluca Di Nardo were sentenced to jail in a corruption case related to OPL 245. Obi and Di Nardo appealed the ruling. * In December 2018, Nigeria filed a $1.1 billion lawsuit in a London commercial court against Shell and Eni in relation to the oilfield deal. Shell said the transaction was fully legal and Eni said it rejected any allegation of impropriety or irregularity.
* In March 2019, Dutch prosecutors said they were preparing criminal charges against Shell over OPL 245. * In April 2019, a Nigerian judge issued arrest warrants for Dan Etete, another former minister and an Eni manager over the sale of OPL 245. Eni called the move disproportionate and detrimental to the rights of its manager. Etete has denied allegations related to the case.
* In July 2019, Eni Chief Executive Descalzi sued a former legal adviser to the Italian company for defamation after excerpts of the lawyer's written testimony relating to the Nigerian case were published in several newspapers. * In October 2019, an $875 million Nigerian government lawsuit against U.S. bank JPMorgan will move forward after a London-based appeals court rejected the bank's bid to have the case dismissed. The bank had asked the court to quash the Nigerian government's case, arguing that it had no prospect of success. All three justices at the Court of Appeal in London rejected JPMorgan's argument in a ruling. The U.S. bank has said it considers the allegations against it "unsubstantiated and without merit."
* In February 2020, A Milan court rejected a prosecution request to hear testimony from a former legal adviser of Eni who had accused the company of spying on judges, offering a boost to the Italian oil company as it fights bribery allegations over a Nigerian oil field. * In July 2020, Italian prosecutors asked a Milan court for oil majors Eni and Shell to be fined and some of their present and former executives, including Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi, to be jailed. They further requested Eni and Shell to be fined 900,000 euros each and sought to confiscate a total of $1.092 billion from all the defendants in the case, the equivalent of the bribes alleged to have been paid.
* In September 2020, Nigeria asked a Milan court to order Eni and Royal Dutch Shell to pay $1.092 billion as an immediate advance payment for damages it is claiming in the OPL 245 case. * In October 2020, the lawyer for Eni Chief Executive Claudio Descalzi said the CEO should be acquitted of corruption in a legal case concerning the purchase of an oilfield in Nigeria since there was no evidence to support the charges.
(Compiled by Shadia Nasralla Editing by Edmund Blair and Jane Merriman)
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