Shell discloses details of internal Nigerian bribery probe to UK fraud agency

Nigerian Map

16 October 2017. By Martin Coyle and Ben Lucas.

Royal Dutch Shell has disclosed findings from an internal investigation into suspicions of bribery linked to a Nigerian oil deal to the UK's Serious Fraud Office, the agency told MLex.

Shell and Italian oil company Eni are accused of paying hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes to senior Nigerian government officials in 2011 as part of a $1.2 billion deal for the license to an oil block known as OPL 245.

The companies are under investigation in Italy but deny the allegations made by prosecutors there.

"We can confirm that we have received information from Shell and their legal representatives with regard to the bribery allegations against Shell, however we can neither confirm nor deny our interest in the matter," the SFO spokeswoman told MLex.

Shell didn't comment, but in April it said in a statement that it was "cooperating with the relevant authorities" on the allegations about the deal in Nigeria.

This is the first time the SFO has publicly confirmed the Nigerian deal is on its radar. The agency declined to say whether it is formally investigating Shell.

Italian trial

It emerged yesterday that four former Shell employees have been requested for trial in Italy over the corruption allegations. Under this process, a judge will decide in a series of hearings whether the prosecutors' case against the four can go to trial.

Campaign group Global Witness yesterday said that Malcolm Brinded, former executive director, Peter Robinson, former vice president for Shell's sub-Saharan Africa operations, and former employees Guy Colegate and John Copleston have been called to face pre-trial hearings.

Brinded, who left Shell in 2012, will step down this month from his current role as a non-executive director at BHP Billiton due to the "ongoing legal proceedings in Italy relating to his prior employment with Shell," BHP said in August. He is still listed as a trustee at Shell Foundation, according to the charity's website.

Shell and Eni, along with 11 other individuals, were requested for trial by Milan's public prosecutor in February. Preliminary hearings began in April and are ongoing. No date has been set for the judge to issue a decision.

Shell and Eni units also face charges in Nigeria.

	Eliot Gao