Oil majors Shell and Eni will be carefully monitoring a first ruling this week by a Milan judge in one of the energy industry’s biggest corruption scandals for clues to what might be round the corner for them.
The two companies are embroiled in a long-running graft case revolving around the purchase in 2011 of one of Africa’s biggest oilfields – Nigeria’s OPL 245 – for about $1.3 billion. The case has spawned legal cases spanning several countries and is expected to drag on for months.
But this Thursday, in a case running parallel to the main trial, a judge will decide, for the first time, whether $1.1 billion of the sum paid was siphoned in bribes to win the license to the field. While the ruling will not tie the court’s hand in the main trial, it will nonetheless constitute a sort of pre-judgement, a legal source involved in the case said.