U.S. Department of Justice closes investigation of Eni

Italian oil company Eni has said it has received confirmation from the U.S. Department of Justice that the DOJ has closed its investigation of Eni with respect to the Nigerian offshore license OPL 245 and Algeria matters without taking any action.

The case in Nigeria is related to Shell and Eni’s acquisition of an offshore block in Nigeria in 2011.

Eni reiterated on Tuesday that neither the company nor its management were involved in any alleged corrupt activities in relation to the OPL 245 transaction in Nigeria.

“Today’s decision by the DOJ confirms the findings of independent advisors, who conducted investigations into the claims following the decision taken by Eni’s controlling bodies, which also found no illegal activity. Eni is confident that the allegations currently put forward before the Court of Milan will be found to be groundless,” the company said in the statement.

To remind, Eni and Shell jointly bought the block in question in 2011 for more than one billion U.S. dollars. In 2014, the Milan Prosecutor’s office launched an investigation to see where the payment went and whether Eni and Shell knew, as it had been alleged, that the money didn’t end up in the state coffers but was passed on further to the former oil minister Dan Etete.

The OPL 245 license had been owned by Malabu oil company, allegedly secretly owned by Etete. The allegations are that the Nigerian government gave the license to Shell and Eni for more than a billion dollars, and then passed the cash further to Malabu, that is, Etete.

Both Eni and Shell have been denying any wrongdoing since the start of the investigation.

According to Eni, the Court of Milan had previously acquitted the company and its management in relation to the Algeria proceedings, having found no instances of any wrongdoing or illegal activities. The judgement therefore reaffirmed the findings of several previous inquiries carried out by independent third parties, which found no involvement on the part of Eni or its management of any alleged illegal or corrupt activity, the Italian company said.

It is also worth reminding that Claudio Descalzi, Eni CEO, is under investigation for a potential conflict of interest with regards to contracts awarded by Eni Congo S.A. to Petroservice. Descalzi last week firmly rejected the allegation.