Top officials at Royal Dutch Shell have been charged in Italy for their alleged roles in the $1.3 billion Malabu Oil scandal, Italian prosecutors said Friday.
Although the full list of the newly charged suspects has not been disclosed, Global Witness quoted Milan Prosecutor’s Office as confirming that it included Malcom Brinded, second most senior official at Shell when the controversial deal was struck in 2011.
The Shell executives would be arraigned alongside others that have been identified by Italian prosecutors as co-conspirators in the Malabu fraud.
Although Shell acknowledged it had prior knowledge that the deal involved a convicted money launderer, the company denied its officials directly participated in any bribery scheme.
In December 2016, prosecutors indicated their interest to charge 13 persons for their alleged roles in the oil deal, which was approved by former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2011.
A former Nigerian Minister of Petroleum and ex-convict, Dan Etete, was amongst those the prosecutor sought to charge last December, but their trials have not commenced.
“We’ve heard that the final preliminary hearing to rule on the prosecutor’s request for trial is at the end of this month so that’s the earliest we could have that decision,” an official said on Monday.
Milan prosecutors have investigated the Malabu deal since 2012 when suspicion began to mount over the deal.
Also in December 2016, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission filed charges against Etete and a former Attorney-General Bello Adoke, both of whom remained at large in foreign countries.
The duo have long maintained that they did no wrong, saying Nigerian and Italian authorities were on a witch-hunt.
Former President Jonathan has also been identified as a person of interest in the deal, with the FBI revealing that the former president probably received over $200 million in bribes to authorise the deal.
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