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Italian prosecutor seeks 8-year sentence for top oil executive


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Eni chief executive Claudio Descalzi. Photo: Christopher Goodney/Bloomberg

Eni chief executive Claudio Descalzi. Photo: Christopher Goodney/Bloomberg

Malcolm Brinded of Royal Dutch Shell. Photo: Antoine Antoniol/Bloomberg

Malcolm Brinded of Royal Dutch Shell. Photo: Antoine Antoniol/Bloomberg

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Eni chief executive Claudio Descalzi. Photo: Christopher Goodney/Bloomberg

A prosecutor in Milan asked for eight years of jail time for Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi over an allegedly corrupt $1.1bn (€955m) Nigerian oil deal.

The court should reach a conclusion later this year on the accusation that most of that payment was distributed as bribes. Any verdict could be subject to a long appeals process.

In his closing arguments yesterday, prosecutor Fabio De Pasquale asked the court in Milan for the sentence for Mr Descalzi, who oversaw the company's oil exploration and production unit at the time. The CEO denies any wrongdoing and he was re-appointed to the position by the Italian government in April.

Several former executives of Eni and Royal Dutch Shell are also on trial. The prosecutor sought eight years for Eni's former CEO Paolo Scaroni and seven years and four months for Malcolm Brinded, who ran Shell's exploration and production division at the time.

The companies and individuals accused have consistently denied any wrongdoing.

The allegation is that the executives involved in the 2011 deal to secure the offshore Oil Prospecting License 245 knew that the money that they deposited in an escrow account controlled by the Nigerian government would be disbursed as bribes.

In 2018, two middlemen were found guilty of corruption in a separate trial related to the transaction.

However, the prosecution has since suffered several setbacks. In January, Isaac Eke, a high-ranking retired Nigerian police officer, failed to corroborate the corruption allegations. In March 2019, a retired Swiss oil executive withdrew accusations against Shell and Eni executives, saying earlier statements that they were part of a network of bribes and kickbacks had been made under pressure.

The Italian system has three rounds of sentencing before coming to a final conviction. The first of these is expected to come by the end of the year.

Bloomberg

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