SWITZERLAND, MAY 22 – Justice Butcher of the English Commercial Court has ruled that Nigeria’s $1bn lawsuit against Shell and Eni over alleged bribery in the massive Oil Prospecting Lease (OPL) 245 deal will not go ahead in the UK.
In 2011, Shell and the Italian oil company Eni paid $1.1 billion in a murky deal for an oil block located off the coast of Nigeria: OPL 245. According to international body, Global Witness, it was able to track documents showing that this money didn’t go to benefit the Nigerian people.
“Instead it went to convicted money launderer and former oil Minister, Dan Etete, who had awarded himself ownership of the block in 1998 via a company he secretly owned, Malabu Oil and Gas, ” Global Witness says in a report.
In May 2019, Today’s Echo reported that the Federal Republic of Nigeria filed a claim in the High Court in London against two international oil giants; Shell and Eni over the deal in which they acquired the OPL 245 oil licence for $1.3 billion.
Of the $1.3 billion that was supposed to be paid, Nigeria says it ended up receiving about $200 million, with up to $1.1 billion being swiftly transferred on to other people.
Today’s Echo gathers that Eni and Shell executives are already standing a separate trial in Milan for their role in the scandal.
In the judgement delivered via video conferencing on Friday morning, Justice Butcher ruled that the English court does not have jurisdiction.
According to British journalist, Barnaby Pace who monitored the proceedings, Justice Butcher’s written ruling finds the English case and the Italian proceedings have the same parties, same essential facts (or cause of action), and considered broadly the cases have the same object in mind – redress for alleged bribery by Shell and others.