Two retired secret agents of British Mi6 identified as Collegate Guy Jonathan and John Coplestone De Carteret, are among the executives of Royal Dutch Shell under prosecution in the ongoing trial of bribery allegation in the purchase of lucrative Nigerian Malabu oil block.

Shell and Italian oil giant, Eni, are also defendants in the charge of ‘Aggravated international corruption,’ leveled against the oil executives in the trial which began in Milan, Italy on Monday.

Barnaby Pace of Global witness, says the two former agents were involved in the negotiations which led to the execution of the deal: “They were the ones doing the underground meetings with other people like Dan Etete and other power brokers in Nigeria, they were briefing Shell senior managers that bribes were likely to be paid, they were the ones doing lots of the negotiations on the ground.”

In a phone interview with Sahara Reporters, Pace said the unique part of the scandal is the day-to-day involvement of senior Shell executives in the discussions: "What we see in this case which we rarely see, is how senior executives were involved in the day-to-day negotiations; there were records of their conversations with leaked emails and the rest. But it was these guys [the MI6 agents], who were basically in Nigeria meeting people and reporting back a lot of the time.”

Officials of Italian oil firm Eni, under prosecution include current CEO, Claudio Descalzi, former CEO,  Paolo Scaroni, and Chief Operations and Technology Officer, Roberto Casula.

In April, Casula took a leave of absence to concentrate solely on ‘addressing the allegations.’

“Noting the recent allegations made against me, and given the esteem in which I hold our business and colleagues, I have decided to take a temporary leave of absence from work. My primary objective is to fully and promptly address these allegations and cooperate to the fullest extent with the judicial authorities.”

Two Shell executives, Malcolm Brinded, onetime executive director of the company's upstream international operations and Peter Robinson, former Vice-President for Sub-Sahara Africa and the MI6 agents are the Shell executives on the docket.

Jonathan was employed by Shell as a Senior Business Adviser, while De Carteret was engaged as a Strategic Investment Adviser.

Pace says Global witness and Finance Uncovered, unearthed, “how this was a systematized approach particularly in Shell in the 2000’s to hire former intelligence agents and kind of take a more intelligent lead to their work.”

According to Pace, these agents helped other senior executives prepare intelligence briefs on all deals Shell did in Nigeria.

A Shell's spokesperson said it was normal for retired agents to sell their skills. According to him, what the organisation considers as wrong, is the alleged use of criminalities in their operations. Asked if the company still engages intelligence agents, he referred to an investigation by Finance Uncovered and Premium Times titled; Malabu Scandal: How Shell used former British spies to gather intelligence while negotiating purchase of OPL 245, while conceding that he is not aware of the current practice.

In 2013 Global witness, The Corner House, Re:Common and Nigerian anti-corruption campaigner, Dotun Oloko, filed a complaint in Milan; triggering what has now become a major global corruption scandal. Shell and Eni are also likely to stand trial in Netherlands, U.K, the USA and Nigeria over the alleged bribery deal.

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