Claudio Descalzi, the Chief Executive Officer of the embattled Italian energy firm, ENI S.p.A, has instituted legal action against Piero Amara, the company’s former legal adviser whose recent testimony allegedly defamed the CEO.
Amara, who is one of the major witnesses in the rather protracted corruption case, had told investigators that the CEO allegedly obstructed justice.
The Denial: ENI’s CEO disputed this claim and is claiming defamation of his character. The energy company has also described the allegations as completely groundless.
In the same vein, the company has absorbed itself of any wronging in the Malabu corruption scandal that also involved Shell and several high-profile personalities, including Nigeria’s former oil minister, Dan Etete.
The intrigues: In the meantime, other witnesses have equally leveled allegations against ENI’s management, claiming that the company knew about the corruption that happened but chose to cover it up.
A former manager at ENI and a defendant in the ongoing litigation, Vincenzo Armanna, told prosecutors on Wednesday that ENI officials (including the CEO), knew that part of the proceeds from the controversial Nigerian oil deal would go into the wrong hands.
Specifically, Armanna stated that ENI officials drafted the documents (including an escrow agreement) that specified that Nigeria’s former oil minister, Entete, would receive as much as $1 billion in kickbacks.
It is, however, left for the court to ascertain the authenticity of this claim because, for all we know, Armanna could have said all these in a desperate bid to drag others along with himself.
The Backstory: In 2011, a Nigerian oil contract went awry after it was marred in a corruption scandal. The controversial oil deal — the OPL 245 oilfield — was said to have been signed off to Shell and ENI after both companies allegedly paid bribes to Nigerian officials to the tune of $1.1 billion.
The man who is alleged to have received a bulk of the bribe is former Nigerian Minister of Petroleum, Dan Etete, who used his company to receive kickbacks from the deal.
This deal is the basis for the ongoing corruption case involving everyone from ENI, Shell, and some of its top officials.
Both companies have continued to deny their alleged involvement in the shadiness that characterised the OPL 245 deal.
Note that in December 2018, the Nigerian Federal Government dragged the Royal Dutch Shell and ENI before a London commercial court over the scandal. The Government is demanding for $1.1 billion.