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OPL 245: Italian Prosecutor Seeks over 7 Years Jail for Malcolm Brinded

Prosecutor Seeks 8 Years Jail for Eni CEO on Bribe Charge

Alberto Brambilla: Jul 21 2020, 10:36 PM Jul 21 2020, 11:10 PM

(Bloomberg) — A prosecutor in Milan asked for eight years of jail time for Eni SpA Chief Executive Officer Claudio Descalzi over an allegedly corrupt $1.1 billion Nigerian oil deal.

The court should reach a conclusion later this year on the accusation that most of that payment was distributed as bribes.

Any verdict could be subject to a long appeals process.

In his closing arguments on Tuesday, prosecutor Fabio De Pasquale asked the court in Milan for the sentence for Descalzi, who oversaw the company’s oil exploration and production unit at the time. The CEO denies any wrongdoing and he was re-appointed to the position by the Italian government in April.

Several former executives of Eni and Royal Dutch Shell Plc are also on trial.

The prosecutor sought eight years for Eni’s former CEO Paolo Scaroni and seven years and four months for Malcolm Brinded, who ran Shell’s exploration and production division at the time.

The companies and individuals accused have consistently denied any wrongdoing.

The Disappearing $1.1 Billion Behind Shell, Eni Trial: QuickTake

The allegation is that the executives involved in the 2011 deal to secure the offshore Oil Prospecting License 245 knew that the money that they deposited in an escrow account controlled by the Nigerian government would be disbursed as bribes.

In 2018, two middlemen were found guilty of corruption in a separate trial related to the transaction.

The prosecution has suffered several setbacks. In January, Isaac Eke, a high-ranking retired Nigerian police officer, failed to corroborate the corruption allegations. In March 2019, a retired Swiss oil executive withdrew accusations against Shell and Eni executives, saying earlier statements that they were part of a network of bribes and kickbacks had been made under pressure.

The Italian system has three rounds of sentencing before coming to a final conviction. The first of these is expected to come by the end of the year.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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