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Bribery scam: Judge delays Eni Nigeria ruling

An Italian judge has put back a decision on a prosecutor’s request to bar oil major Eni from doing business with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), a lawyer for Eni said today.

The public prosecutor confirmed, however, it would press ahead with a request for Eni and its Saipem unit to be banned from doing business in Nigeria, judicial sources said to Reuters.

“The hearing is finished and the judge reserved her judgment,” Eni lawyer Paola Severino said, adding any decision could now take some time.

The expected decision is part of a probe by Milan prosecutors into alleged bribes of $180 million paid by the TSKJ consortium in the period 1994-2004 to obtain contracts worth more than $6 billion to build Nigerian LNG facilities.  Any ruling would also affect oilfield services provider Saipem, an Eni unit.

Oilfield service unit Snamprogetti, an Eni unit now controlled by Saipem, was also part of the TSKJ group along with France’s Technip and Japan’s JGC Corporation.

The consortium was headed by former Halliburton unit KBR, which pleaded guilty in February to US charges that it paid $180 million in bribes to Nigerian officials to secure four contracts to build and expand Nigeria’s Bonny Island LNG terminal.

Eni, Europe’s third-biggest oil company by market value, gets about 20% of its production from West Africa, including Nigeria.

Eni and Saipem would be able to appeal any eventual ban which would be immediately effective.
At 1314 GMT Eni shares were down 0.33% at €17.87 and Saipem was down 0.72% at €21.95.


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