By Adam Clark
The government of Nigeria said Thursday it has filed a $1.09 billion claim against Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSA.LN) and ENI SpA (ENI.MI) in London, opening a new front in a long-running dispute over a 2011 oilfield deal.
Nigeria's claim concerns OPL 245, a prospecting license for a major offshore oil block purchased by Shell and ENI in 2011. Nigeria alleges Shell and ENI engaged in bribery and unlawful conspiracy.
"This claim reflects the determination and ongoing efforts of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to recover the very significant sums lost to corruption and the unlawful activity of Shell and ENI in this transaction," said Tom Hibbert of RPC, acting as solicitors for the Nigerian government.
The OPL 245 deal is already the subject of a prosecution in Italy, and an investigation in the Netherlands. Shell and ENI have both previously denied wrongdoing.
A spokesperson for Shell said Thursday the company maintains the deal was a fully legal transaction.
"Since this matter is before the Tribunal of Milan, it would not be appropriate for us to comment in detail on the new claims that have been made by the Federal Republic of Nigeria. However, based on our review of the Prosecutor of Milan's file and all of the information and facts available to us, we do not believe that there is a case to answer in this matter," the spokesperson said.
ENI didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.