Antonio Secci, lawyer to Dan Etete, a former minister of petroleum, says the oil prospective license (OPL) 245 deal of 2011 was legally “perfect” and there was no evidence of corruption.
The OPL 245 deal involves the $1.3 billion purchase of an oil block by Royal Dutch Shell and Eni from Malabu Oil and Gas, a company Etete had major shares in.
Out of the sum, $210 million went into government coffers as “signature bonus” — the rest was paid to Malabu Oil and Gas.
Reuters reports that Secci told a Milan court on Wednesday that prosecutors in the case had been unable to establish the exact role Etete played in the purported bribery of Nigerian public officials — if he had corrupted politicians or had simply been an intermediary between the two companies and the Nigerian government.
Secci prayed the court to acquit Etete, adding that the money had first been paid into an escrow account owned by the Nigerian government before being transferred to Malabu without any proof of corruption.
Prosecutors alleged that $1.1 billion went to politicians and intermediaries, with 50 percent of it going to Etete personally.
According to Shell, the OPL 245 deal was a resolution of a long-standing litigation, coming after the Nigerian government previously assigned the oil block to Shell and Malabu.
The news agency disclosed that 13 other people, including Claudio Descalzi, chief executive officer (CEO) of Eni are involved in the case.
All the defendants pleaded not guilty and said the purchase price was paid into an account owned by the Nigerian government which was not under their control.
Former Shell executives accused in the case will have a hearing on December, 9.