Not Guilty, But We’ll Pay Congo the $14m Settlement – Eni

Following investigations into alleged bribery to get oil permits in the Republic of Congo, Italian energy firm, Eni has offered to pay a settlement fee of €11.8m ($14m).

Eni in a statement on Thursday said it had filed a request to pay the settlement while also insisting it’s not guilty of the allegations leveled against it.

Settlement in Italy is not liable to an admission of guilt but may be used to settle criminal cases.

Prosecutors in the case have since reduced the allegations to undue inducement from international bribery. Eni says its request to pay the settlement is in reaction to the downgrading of the allegation because it is committed to its anti-bribery policy.

The prosecutors in the deal may not be as impressed, but seem to be getting all they can from the case as they filed for an €800,000 penalty against the company and asked it to further pay €11m as profit from the alleged offense in order to close the case.

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Eni, in 2017 allegedly sought renewal of licenses in the oil-producing nation but went on to bribe public officials in the country with sharing stakes of the licenses with their companies.

Although Eni denied any wrongdoing and claims to have no role in the choice of Congo’s local partners, it has accepted prosecutors’ offer for a settlement.

It is the second of such allegations against the company in Africa as it was acquitted of a long-term case against Nigeria on Wednesday, 17th of March.

Eni and Shell, a Dutch company were accused of bribing public officials in Nigeria in 2011 to explore oil on the oil-rich field, OPL 245. The Nigerian government, led by Muhammadu Buhari argued that the $1.3bn paid for the oil bloc was not only lower than OPL 245’s actual valuation, but was also paid to personal accounts of public officials. The same oil field is believed to have 9 billion barrels of oil.

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The case, popularly known as Malabu Scandal in Nigeria has been in an Italian court for three years, but the two energy companies and 13 defendants involved, including former Nigerian executives have been acquitted by the court.

While the ruling is open to being appealed against, criticisms continue to follow Eni and Shell’s acquittal with experts and people who have followed the case claiming a lack of transparency in the judgement.

The Nigerian government is disappointed.

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