Italian ENI boss investigated for alleged Nigeria bribes

11 September 2014 - 12:44 By Sapa-dpa
Oil and gas workers in Africa
Oil and gas workers in Africa
Image: File photo

Italian prosecutors are investigating the chief executive of oil and gas company Eni, Claudio Descalzi, over the suspected payment of bribes to secure an oil contract in Nigeria, a report said on Thursday.

The Corriere della Sera newspaper said the state-controlled energy giant is suspected of having paid 190 million dollars to an intermediary linked to former Nigerian Oil Minister Dan Ete to secure extraction rights over the Opl 245 oil block.

Eni was not immediately available for comment, but the newspaper report said the company had previously denied any wrongdoing in the Nigeria deal.

At the time of the deal, in 2011, Descalzi was head of Eni's Oil division. He was promoted to chief executive in April, replacing Paolo Scaroni, who is also being probed over allegations of international corruption.

Corriere della Sera said that acting on a request from prosecutors in Milan, a court in Britain had frozen two bank accounts worth 110 and 80 million dollars respectively, belonging to the Nigerian intermediary who allegedly received the bribes.

On the Milan stock exchange on Thursday, company shares were down by more than 1%, the worst performance of the day.