with agency report
Lagos — A London court on Monday struck out Nigeria’s bid to postpone claim against international oil majors, Eni and Shell.
A report by Premium Times says Royal Dutch Shell and Eni’s bid to block a $1.1 billion civil claim over corruption allegations in Nigeria will go ahead next month, quoting Mark Pelling, a judge in a London court.
The court ruled that it should not wait for a connected Italian ruling.
Nigeria wanted the April court date postponed until January 2021, when a connected criminal case in Milan will have concluded.
The London claim centers on the licensing rights for OPL 245 block, for which the oil majors purchased extraction rights in 2011. It is alleged that of the $1.1 billion the companies paid for the block, only $210 million ended up in Nigerian government coffers, while the rest was used for bribes and kickbacks to government officials.
Reports said Shell had been happy for the London hearing to be postponed, but Eni was keen for it to go ahead. The oil companies are expected to argue that the London courts have no jurisdiction over the claim.
The oil companies and former and current executives face corruption charges linked to the Malabu scandal, a 2011 deal involving a Nigerian oil block known as OPL 245.
Officials affected in the scandal have denied wrongdoing.
The case involving the oil firms had been due to finish around now, but delays mean an oral ruling is not expected until July, and a written decision is not due until October.
Any verdict is likely be subject to appeals which could take years to conclude.
Nigeria has “victim status” in the Italian proceedings and could potentially claim billions of dollars in damages if the companies are found guilty of bribery.
The British judge ruled that the London hearing should proceed in April, adding that it would be wrong if the defendants were delayed in hearing their fates due to a case-management decision in Italy.
He said: “It’s frankly deplorable the notion that a jurisdictional challenge should take two years to resolve,” he said.