Posted by Emilio Parodi | 20 September 2018 | 804 times
An Italian judge sentenced two defendants in a Nigerian corruption case to jail on Thursday in the first ruling on one of the oil industry’s biggest graft scandals.
Nigerian Emeka Obi and Italian Gianluca Di Nardo were found guilty of international corruption and each given four-year jail sentences, three sources with knowledge of the ruling said.
Lawyers for Obi and Di Nardo declined to comment.
The long-running case revolves around the 2011 purchase by Italian oil company Eni and Anglo-Dutch peer Royal Dutch Shell of Nigeria’s OPL 245 offshore oilfield for about $1.3 billion.
Milan prosecutors allege bribes totaling around $1.1 billion were paid to win the licence to explore the field which, because of disputes, has never entered into production.
The main trial - 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 middlemen and taking illegal kickbacks, had asked for a separate fast-track trial which, under Italian law, allows sentences to be cut by a third.
Thursday’s ruling will not tie the court’s hand in the main trial.
But Barnaby Pace, anti-corruption campaigner at Global Witness, said: “This judgment will send shivers down the corporate spines of the oil industry.” (Reuters)
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