The head of Italian oil group Eni has sued a former legal adviser to the company for defamation after excerpts of the lawyer's written testimony relating to a Nigerian corruption case were published in several newspapers on Wednesday.

Eni said Chief Executive Claudio Descalzi had taken the legal action after newspapers quoted from the testimony, which was given by Piero Amara in an investigation into allegations of obstruction of justice in the corruption case.

Eni described the allegations as baseless.

The group has always denied any wrongdoing in relation to the Nigeria case, in which it and oil major Shell are accused of acquiring an oil field in the knowledge that most of the purchase price would be siphoned off to middlemen in corrupt payments.  

Shell also denied any wrongdoing in the deal, Reuters reports.
 

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