Nigeria: Italian Court Acquits Shell, Eni in Nigeria Corruption Case

Energy giants Eni and Shell were accused of corruption in the 2011 purchase of an offshore oilfield in Nigeria. The $1.3 billion sale was the biggest corruption scandal to hit the industry.

An Italian court acquitted energy firms Royal Dutch Shell and Eni on Wednesday in a massive corruption case.

The long-running case concerns the 2011 purchase of an offshore oil field in Nigeria, with prosecutors alleging the companies paid bribes to secure the field.

What did the court rule?

Judge Marco Tremolada read out the sentence in the Milan court on Wednesday.

He said the companies and 13 defendants charged in the case had been acquitted as there was no case to answer.

Among those charged in the case were current Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi and his predecessor Paolo Scaroni.

Prosecutors called for the managers to be jailed and the companies to be fined, as well as confiscating $1.1 billion from the defendants.

The ruling comes three years after the trial kicked off and after over 74 hearings.

Wednesday’s ruling could still be appealed.

How has Nigeria responded?

The Nigerian government expressed its disappointment in a statement released shortly after the Italian court’s decision was announced.

“The Federal Republic of Nigeria is disappointed in today’s ruling in Milan, but thanks the Italian prosecuting authorities for their tireless efforts,” a government spokesman said.