Summary: £190 million of funds frozen in UK and Switzerland in OPL 245 oil block bribery case

11th September 2014: £190 million of funds in the UK and Switzerland have been frozen at the request of the Italian authorities as part of the continuing investigation into the corrupt deal for the OPL 245 oil block in Nigeria. SRT grantee Re:Common and former grantee Global Witness, who have been investigating the deal for several years, both welcomed the news.

Subsidiaries of Italian oil giant Eni and Royal Dutch Shell agreed to pay the Nigerian government US$1.1billion for the oil block in 2011. The government then paid the same amount to Malabu Oil and Gas, a company owned by former oil minister Chief Dan Etete. Etete had awarded the block to his own company when he was oil minister under corrupt Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha. Eni have said in a statement that they “continue to deny any illegal conduct.”

The funds frozen today are thought to be proceeds held by Malabu and its middleman Energy Venture Partners.

Nigerian anti-corruption activist Dotun Oloko, who was instrumental in bringing the bribery to light, said, “The freezing of $190m in proceeds from the OPL 245 oil deal is good news for the people of Nigeria, many of whom live in poverty despite the country’s oil wealth. $1.1bn was diverted from the public purse; this needs to be recovered as well as get to the bottom of the role companies and individuals played in this heist.”

Antonio Tricarico, Re:Common’s programme director, said, “The naming of Claudio Descalzi, Eni’s new CEO, its outgoing CEO Paolo Scaroni, and Roberto Casula, its chief development, operations and technology officer, as suspects in the Italian bribery investigation should raise concerns in Italy about ethics standards in state-owned companies […] Bold action against alleged mismanagement by ENI managers is urgently needed.”

Full story from Re: Common’s website:

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