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Eni says probe shows no Nigeria corruption

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Nicolas Torres June 1, 2015

An audit didn’t uncover any evidence that Italy’s Eni made illegal payments tied to the 2011 purchase of OPL 245 license in Nigeria.

The probe, conducted by a U.S. law firm on behalf of Eni, found no evidence of illegal conduct during Eni and Shell’s purchase of OPL 245 from the Nigerian government for $1.1 billion.

Last October, Italian prosecutors began investigating the purchase after alleging that as much as $533 million of the purchase amount was used to bribe local politicians, intermediaries and other people connected to the deal.

Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi is also under investigation.

The audit examined documents and information available to the company or otherwise received or acquired following the start of the investigation, Eni said.

Production at OPL 245 is projected to begin in 2016.

The field holds estimated reserves of about 9 billion barrels of crude oil.

Eni holds a 50 percent operating stake in the license and Shell holds the remaining 50 percent stake.

Shell is not under investigation.

Eni has denied any wrongdoing.

Neither company has disclosed if the investigation will impact the field’s startup plans.

The audit is independent of a pending preliminary investigation into the matter by Italian officials.

A final audit report was made available to the judiciary, with whom Eni is cooperating fully.

In September, Italy-based Bank Akros said in a note to clients that the probe could cost the Eni up to $646 million, or about one percent of its market capitalization.

SOURCE

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