The Federal Government on Thursday said it had filed a $1.1bn lawsuit against the Royal Dutch Shell and Eni in a commercial court in London over the disputed Malabu oilfield OPL 245 deal dating back to 2011.
Both Shell and Eni have been under the spotlight and have been embroiled in a long-running corruption case over the deal.
Both oil majors are also on trial in Milan court for corruption charges over OPL 245, which is one of the biggest sources of untapped oil reserves on the African continent with reserves estimated at nine billion barrels.
The London case filed by the Federal Government, according to a Reuters report, is also related to payments made by the companies to get the OPL 245 oilfield licence in 2011.
“It is alleged that purchase monies purportedly paid to the Federal Republic of Nigeria were in fact immediately paid through a company controlled by Dan Etete, formerly the Nigerian Minister of Petroleum, and used for, among other things, bribes and kickbacks.
“Accordingly, it is alleged that Shell and Eni engaged in bribery and unlawful conspiracy to harm the Federal Republic of Nigeria and that they dishonestly assisted corrupt Nigerian government officials”, Nigeria said.
The Federal Government also joined Malabu Oil & Gas and Energy Venture Partners Limited in the lawsuit.
Malabu was allegedly controlled by Etete, who took possession of the $1.1bn payment and used it for bribes and kickbacks, according to the lawsuit.
Antonio Secci, a lawyer for Etete, was quoted as saying that the London suit “surprises” because the Nigerian government is already seeking damages in Milan.
“This situation cannot be represented again in London because it is repetitive,” he said.
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