The US justice department has ended investigation of Eni, Italian oil giant, over its joint acquisition of OPL 245 with Shell in 2011.
But after Eni issued a press statement on Tuesday in which it said this is yet another confirmation that it did not engage in any illegality, the department said it was “misleading” because investigation could be re-opened if circumstances changed.
Eni later issued a clarification, saying there was a translation error in its original statement and promised to cooperate with the US authorities if the case is re-opened.
“If the DoJ would decide to reopen its investigation based on events new and unknown, then Eni will cooperate again with the Department to further demonstrate that Eni and its management are not involved in any illegal conduct,” an Eni spokesman said.
In 2011, the federal government brokered a deal between Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd, the original allotees of the enormously endowed but controversial OPL 245, and Shell/Eni who wanted to buy the oil block from the Nigerian company.
While Shell and Eni paid a signature bonus of $210 million to the federal government, they paid $1.1 billion to buy 100 percent interest in the oil block from Malabu.
However, the entire $1.3 billion was transferred to the account of the federal government in London, UK, from where Malabu was paid its $1.1 billion.
Subsequently, it was alleged that bribes were paid to politicians, businessmen and middlemen to facilitate the deal, considered by activists as unfavourable to Nigeria.
Eni and Shell have denied any wrongdoing.