Shell, ENI oilfield assets seized during corruption investigation
By Camillus Eboh
ABUJA, Feb 27 (Reuters) – A Nigerian court will rule on March 13 on a request by Royal Dutch Shell and Italy’s Eni to lift the temporary seizing of a long-disputed oilfield, a judge said on Monday.
The court last month ordered the temporary seizing of assets and the transfer of operations of the OPL 245 field owned by Shell and Eni, among others, to the federal government on request of the country’s financial crime agency EFCC.
The case is the latest of several inquiries, following those by Dutch and Italian authorities, into the 2011 purchase of the OPL 245 block, which could hold up to 9.23 billion barrels of oil, according to industry figures.
“The matter is adjourned to the 13th of March 2017 for ruling on the applications,” Justice John Tsoho told a court hearing.
Shell’s lawyer Kayinsola Ajayi said the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had failed to follow the necessary steps such as issuing an arrest warrant first before seeking a forfeiture.
EFCC lawyer Johnson Ojogbane dismissed this.
According to court papers seen by Reuters last month, the inquiry is investigating whether the $1.3 billion purchase of OPL 245 involved “acts of conspiracy, bribery, official corruption and money laundering.”
(Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Mark Potter)