Oil company on trial in $1.1bn corruption case given access to top EU officials to lobby for gas
An Italian energy giant on trial in a $1.1bn (£790m) bribery and corruption case has been granted privileged access to senior EU officials to lobby for fossil fuel investment, an investigation has found.
Eni and its chief executive Claudio Descalzi are on trial alongside Royal Dutch Shell in connection to a deal for one of Nigeria’s most promising oil blocks.
Prosecutors allege that the companies knew hundreds of millions of pounds were to be paid out as bribes to a former oil minister as well as then-president Goodluck Jonathan and a number of associates.
A judgement is expected from a Milan court this month with Italian prosecutors seeking an eight-year jail sentence for Mr Descalzi if he is convicted. All of the defendants have pleaded not guilty and deny any wrongdoing.
Global Witness, which has uncovered much of the evidence in the case, found that the serious allegations have not stopped the EU granting Eni and its top executives regular access to the corridors of power.
Mr Descalzi met with the EU’s energy commissioner as recently as last June to discuss the role of fossil gas in the future of the EU, amongst other topics. It followed a meeting with the commissioner for internal markets in September 2018 – the very same month public hearings in the corruption trial began.
Eni holds six European Parliament passes, more than any other oil and gas company, Global Witness discovered.