Oil giants wait on graft trial

Two men have been sentenced to four years for corruption over a Nigerian oil field deal, in a ruling that has implications for a parallel case against two major oil corporations.

Emeka Obi, a Nigerian, and Gianluca Di Nardo, an Italian, were convicted in Italy of international corruption for their involvement in a controversial $1.3 billion oil deal from 2011.

Prosecutors say that $1.1 billion of that was paid to former oil minister Dan Etete and then distributed as bribes to help license the oil field.

Among those named as receiving bribes is former President Goodluck Jonathan, who is not facing any charges related to the case.

Prosecutors allege that Obi collected $114 million and Di Nardo $24 million for their parts in the scheme.

This case is related to a larger trial of the Italian oil and gas company Eni, and the Netherlands-based Royal Dutch Shell, over the purchase of the oil field. Others involved in the case include the Eni CEO and four former Shell managers.

A hearing for the main trial opened on September 26; last Thursday’s ruling could be seen as a bad omen for the oil giants, which have denied any wrongdoing.

Sources: The Independent (U.K.), All Africa

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