And after oil and gas group Shell and Italy’s Eni were cleared of bribery in Nigeria earlier this week, Dutch judicial authorities also refrained from further prosecutions. The Public Prosecution Office rejected the criminal case because prosecution is no longer possible.
At the beginning of last year, a lower Italian court already concluded that the claims against Shell, Eni and some directors were unfounded. This week, Italy’s public prosecutor also decided to request that the appeal be dropped because the case was said to be unfounded. This was unique to the court in Milan.
In its response, Shell said that it welcomed the decision of the Dutch Public Prosecution Office. “Today’s decision confirms what we have long maintained that there was no case against Shell or its former employees and that charges should never have been brought against them.”
Shell and Eni are not yet fully out of the case, which has been investigated for years. Nigeria wants to impose monetary compensation in civil proceedings.
In 2011, Shell and Eni paid 1.3 billion euros to purchase exploitation rights. The deal raised suspicions of corruption, as the Nigerian government allegedly transferred most of the proceeds to a company owned by a controversial former oil minister. Shell, Eni, and the accused directors have long denied that anything wrong happened.
The anti-corruption organizations that filed a complaint against Shell and Eni are disappointed with the Public Prosecution’s decision. “Due to the Dutch dismissal decision, Shell will now not have to respond to a Dutch court, even though the Public Prosecution Office has seen a case that could be prosecuted,” responded Nigerian HEDA, Italian Re: Common and Global Witness and Corner House from the United Kingdom .
A statement distributed by their lawyers stated that Shell and Eni are now avoiding criminal proceedings on the grounds that a suspect cannot be tried twice for the same crime. Organizations are investigating whether there are other legal ways to sue oil companies.
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