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Nigeria: Malabu OPL 245 Scandal – Italy Appoints Accused Official As ENI CEO

Nigeria: Malabu Scandal – Activists Kick As Italy Appoints Accused Official As ENI CEO

21 April 2020

The Italian government has re-nominated Claudio Descalzi as Chief Executive Officer of Eni, Italy’s largest multinational company and the country’s largest foreign oil producer in Africa.

Mr Descalzi is set to maintain the leadership role despite an ongoing criminal trial over corruption allegations surrounding the billion dollar 2011 acquisition by Shell and Eni of Nigeria’s OPL 245 oil license.

Italian prosecutors allege that the $1.1bn paid by Eni and their partner Shell for the OPL 245 licence was used to pay former Nigerian oil minister Dan Etete and was “intended for payment to a former Nigerian president, Goodluck Jonathan, members of the government, and other Nigerian public officials”.

Eni and Shell, and several of their senior managers including Mr Descalzi are currently standing trial, charged with aggravated international corruption. If convicted, the offences carry seven-year jail terms.

Mr Descalzi, both companies and all other individuals in the case have pleaded not guilty and the trial is currently delayed by the Covid-19 crisis.

Those on trial include Eni’s current CEO, Claudio Descalzi; former CEO Paolo Scaroni, and Chief Operations and Technology Officer Roberto Casula alongside four former Royal Dutch Shell staff members including Malcolm Brinded, former Executive Director for Shell’s Upstream International operations, and two former MI6 agents employed by Shell.

Simon Taylor, a Director of Global Witness said: “It is appalling that Mr Descalzi can be considered the best candidate to lead one of Italy’s flagship companies with such serious allegations hanging over his head. The Italian Government should explain their decision to ignore the allegations made by Milan’s Prosecutors.”

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