(Adds Eni comment)
ABUJA, March 2 Nigeria's financial crime
watchdog has filed new corruption charges against Royal Dutch
Shell, Eni and others regarding the $1.3
billion purchase of a long-disputed oilfield in 2011, according
to court documents released on Thursday.
The charges of conspiracy to commit a felony and official
corruption were made after an investigation by Nigeria's
Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) found new
evidence, Jonson Ojogbane, an EFCC senior prosecutor named in
the documents, told Reuters by telephone.
Eni said it had not received any notification about the
charges and that the company "reaffirms the correctness of its
conduct" in the acquisition of the licence.
Shell did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The case is the latest of several inquiries, following those
by Dutch and Italian authorities, into the 2011 purchase of
Nigerian oil prospecting licence OPL 245 block, which could hold
up to 9.23 billion barrels of oil, according to industry
A Nigerian court ordered in January the seizure of the
oilfield assets and transfer of operations to the federal
government on the request of the EFCC.
On March 13 a court will rule on a request by Shell and
Italy's Eni to lift the temporary seizure.
The targets of EFCC's new charges include Shell's local
subsidiary, Eni and its local subsidiary, directors of those
companies, a Nigerian former oil minister and a former justice
The court filing alleges those involved conspired to commit
a felony and violated corruption laws by paying $801 million to
Nigerian officials for OPL 245 in 2011.
The oilfield's licence was initially awarded in 1998 by
former Nigerian oil minister Dan Etete to Malabu Oil and Gas, a
company in which he held shares and which is also named in the
Reuters could not immediately reach Etete or Malabu for
The licence was then sold for $1.3 billion in 2011 to Eni
and Shell. A British court document has shown that Malabu
received $1.09 billion from the sale, while the rest went to the
Last month Eni backed CEO Claudio Descalzi after judicial
sources said that prosecutors had asked for him to be tried over
alleged corruption in the OPL 245 case. Descalzi has denied any
(Reporting by Tife Owolabi and Paul Carsten; Editing by Mark
Potter and David Goodman)