US Justice Department Halts Investigation Of Shell Over OPL 245 Purchase

The multinational, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, said the DoJ made its decision based on facts before it and the ongoing trial in Milan, Italy.

Royal Dutch Shell said on Wednesday that the United States Department of Justice, has stopped its investigation into the company’s 2011 purchase of oil prospecting license 245.

 

This comes a day after Eni released a similar statement, according to Reuters.

 

The multinational, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, said the DoJ made its decision based on facts before it and the ongoing trial in Milan, Italy.

 

It said, “The US Department of Justice has notified us that it has closed its inquiry into Shell in relation to OPL 245.

 

“We understand that this is based on facts available to the DoJ, including ongoing legal proceedings in Europe.”

 

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration had in 2001 withdrawn the OPL 245 license from Malabu Oil and Gas – an entity set-up by Dan Etete in 1998 while serving as Minister of Petroleum resources.

 

After several legal battles, the Nigerian Government reached a court-brokered deal to return the OPL 245 block to Malabu Oil and Gas in 2006.

 

While claiming that it had no idea that Etete, who was acting as the face of the company, was listed as a member of the board of directors with a fictitious name, the Nigerian Government under Goodluck Jonathan refereed a controversial deal that saw Shell partner with Eni to pay Malabu $1.1bn and give the government a signature bonus of $210m.

 

Two of the middlemen responsible for funnelling some of the proceeds of the payment to politicians and officials of both Shell and Eni, were convicted by an Italian court in Milan in 2018.

 

Shell, Eni and seven officials from both firms are still under trial in Milan – Eni’s homestead.

 

The United States looks into cases of corruption by companies registered within its jurisdiction through the Foreign Corruption Practice Act.

 

Under the provision of this law, Eni and Shell had in 2010 promised to amend their ways after escaping full prosecution for separate acts of corruption in Nigeria.

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