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Judge jails two defendants in corrupt OPL 245 Nigerian oil deal

September 20, 2018, 08:07:00 AM EDT By Reuters

MILAN, Sept 20 (Reuters) – A Milan court sentenced two defendants in a Nigeria corruption case to jail on Thursday in what is a first ruling on one of the oil industry’s biggest graft scandals.

Nigeria’s Emeka Obi and Italian Gianluca Di Nardo were both found guilty of international corruption and each given four-year jail sentences, two sources with knowledge of the ruling said.

Lawyers for Obi and Nardo were not available for immediate comment.

The case revolves around the 2011 purchase by Eni two and Royal Dutch Shell of Nigeria’s OPL-245 offshore oilfield for about $1.3 billion.

Milan prosecutors allege bribes totaling around $1.1 billion euros were paid to win the licence to explore the field which because of the dispute has never entered into production.

The main case – which besides Eni and Shell also involves Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi and four ex-Shell managers including former Shell Foundation Chairman Malcolm Brinded, is expected to drag on for months.

But Obi and Di Nardo, accused of being middle men and taking illegal kickbacks, had asked for a separate fast-track trial which, under Italian law, allows sentences to be cut by a third.

(Reporting by Emilio Parodi, writing by Stephen Jewkes; editing by Agnieszka Flak and Angus MacSwan)

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