The US Department of Justice has concluded its investigation of the
purchase of oil prospecting licence (OPL) 245 by Italian oil giant
Eni, without taking any further decision.

The company which is registered as Agip in Nigeria is also under
investigation in Milan Italy over the $1.3 billion deal brokered by
the Goodluck Jonathan government in 2011.

“Today’s decision by the DOJ confirms the findings of independent
advisors, who conducted investigations into the claims... which also
found no illegal activity,” Eni said in a statement confirming receipt
of the decision.

The company which was also cleared over wrongdoing in another oil
field in Algeria said it believes none of its management were guilty
of corruption in its acquisition of OPL 245 with royal Dutch Shell.

“Eni reiterates that neither the Company nor its management was
involved in any alleged corrupt activities in relation to the Opl245
transaction in Nigeria. Eni is confident that the allegations
currently put forward before the Court of Milan will be found to be
groundless,” it added.

In a transaction facilitated by then-Minister of Justice Mohamed
Adoke, on behalf of the federal government, the Italian firm and Shell
had raised $1.3 billion including the signature bonus of about $200
million, which was paid into a JPMorgan bank account owned by the
Nigerian government.

About $1.1 billion from the account was allegedly used to pay bribes
to politicians and officials of both companies. With the exception of
the signature bonus which was for Nigeria, the rest of the fund was to
serve as payment for the purchase of the oil block from a carton
company — Malabu Oil and gas, created by Dan Etete in 1998, who was
the minister of petroleum Resources at the time.

He had, however, used a fictitious name to insert himself into the
board of directors of the company. Mr. Adoke has however insisted that
neither he nor anyone in the government knew was aware of Etete’s
cunning, despite the fact that he had emerged as the face of the
company since disputes about the legitimacy of the firm flared up in
2001.

Adoke has always insisted that the Jonathan administration was
effecting the pronouncement of a 2006 court judgment.

IN Italy, however, two middlemen Emeka Obi and Gianluka di Nardo, were
in 2018, convicted for their role in the deal.

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