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OPL 245: Italian court dismisses Nigeria’s $1.1bn compensation request against Eni, Shell

OPL 245: Italian court dismisses Nigeria’s $1.1bn compensation request against Eni, Shell
November 11
19:09 2022

An Italian appeal court has rejected Nigeria’s $1.1 billion compensation request against Eni, Shell, and others in a civil proceeding over the OPL 245 affair.

Italian prosecutors had put the oil companies, and some of their executives on criminal trial over allegations of corruption in the transfer of the oil block from Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd. to Shell and Eni for a consideration of $1.1 billion, in addition to the payment of $200 million as signature bonus to the Nigerian government.

After three years of trial — which the government of Nigeria joined as an injured party — the court of Milan ruled in March 2021 that the prosecutors did not establish any proof of corruption, discharging and acquitting all the defendants.

In July, the attorney general of Italy terminated the appeal against the judgment of the court of Milan on grounds that it was baseless.


Nevertheless, Nigeria pursued the civil case in which it claimed to have lost money in the deal.

According to Reuters, the decision to strike out the compensation request in the latest judgement, was read out in a Milan court on Friday.

“We are pleased that these civil proceedings have been dismissed,” Shell told Reuters in an emailed comment.


“This follows the Milan criminal tribunal’s finding that there was no case to answer for Shell or its former employees when they were fully acquitted in 2021, a decision that was upheld in July 2022, when criminal proceedings ended.”

A lawyer representing Nigeria in the proceedings said the country was still deciding whether to appeal the decision at Italy’s top administrative court. 


The court’s decision was another failed attempt by Nigeria in trying to prove that the OPL 245 deal was fraught with corruption.


Shell and Eni had paid a total of $1.3 billion to Nigeria’s account at JP Morgan — $801 million for Malabu, the original OPL 245 allottees, and $210 million as signature bonus to the federal government.

However, Nigeria sued JP Morgan Bank for $1.7 billion for allegedly failing in its “duty of care” when it transferred the payments by Shell and Eni to Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd. between 2011 and 2013.

But in June 2022, it lost the $1.7 billion claim against JP Morgan Chase Bank.

The country’s attempt to appeal the judgment was turned down by the judge who said there was no prospect of it succeeding.


Meanwhile, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) previously investigated the OPL 245 deal and announced in October 2019 that it was closing the case.

Again, in April 2020, the US Securities and Exchange Commission closed investigations into the controversial deal after it could not prove fraud or corruption.


In June 2022, the high court of England and Wales ruled that Nigeria did not prove its allegations of corruption against Mohammed Bello Adoke, the former attorney-general of the federation, who was accused of corruption in the transaction.

Adoke has consistently maintained that he did no wrong and did not collect any bribe, but the government is currently prosecuting him in two different courts in Nigeria.



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