Italian Court jails Nigerian, one other over Malabu oil deal

An Italian Judge has sentenced two middlemen found guilty of corruption offences relating to Shell and Eni’s 2011 deal for one of Nigeria’s most promising oil licenses.

The two middlemen Emeka Obi, a Nigerian and Gianluca Di Nardo have been sentenced to four years jail time and confiscations of over €100 million.

Charges against the two Middlemen

Milan prosecutors alleged that bribes totalling around $1.1 billion were paid to win the licence to explore the oilfield which, because of disputes, has never entered into production.

According to prosecutors, Obi kept in frequent contact with executives at Eni attempting to broker the sale of the oil license from Malabu Oil and Gas, a company owned by former Nigerian Oil Minister Dan Etete. Prosecutors accused Obi and Di Nardo of intending to use commissions from the deal to pay bribes to Nigerian public officials and kickbacks to Eni and Shell managers.

The pair had opted for a fast tracked trial for their role in the deal. The fast track process in Italian law offers a possible reduction in any sentence. A larger trial including Shell, Eni and 13 other defendants is ongoing.

The unending Malabu Oil Trial

The two oil giants are embroiled in a long-running corruption case revolving around the purchase in 2011 of one of Africa’s biggest oilfields – Oil Prospecting Licence 245 – for about $1.3 billion.

The case against Eni and Shell brought by the Milan Public Prosecutor alleged that $520 million from the deal was converted into cash and intended to be paid to the then Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, members of the Government and other Nigerian Government officials. The prosecutors further alleged that money was also channelled to Eni and Shell executives with $50 million in cash delivered to the home of Eni’s Roberto Casula.

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