Eni officials tried to tamper with witness in Nigeria case — Prosecutor

Officials from Eni (ENI.MI) sought to convince a witness, a former Eni manager, to withdraw some statements he made during investigations into a Nigerian corruption case involving the Italian oil group, a court heard on Wednesday.

Prosecutor Fabio De Pasquale made the comment in a trial hearing into the case, during a legal debate over a request by Eni lawyers to adjourn proceedings to give more time to consider evidence in a related obstruction-of-justice investigation, Reuters said.

“We have become aware that Eni, through its managers, would have tried to influence and would have approached the defendant (Vincenzo) Armanna to convince him to withdraw some of his statements,” De Pasquale told the court without elaborating.

Armani is both a defendant and a prosecution witness in the corruption trial.

Eni has denied any wrongdoing in the trial, in which it is accused of buying a Nigerian offshore oilfield license in the knowledge that most of the $1.3 billion purchase price would be siphoned off to agents and middlemen in corrupt payments.

Oil major Shell (RDSa.L), which jointly bought the offshore field with Eni, is also on trial for corruption over the deal. It too denies any wrongdoing.

Eni also denies any wrongdoing in relation to a separate investigation where prosecutors are looking into allegations that Eni sought to obstruct justice in the Nigeria case.

Armanna, who led Eni’s project to acquire the OPL-245 field in 2011, has told investigators he was informed by a security official for the then Nigerian president that $50 million had been set aside for top Eni management under the deal.

Eni has denied any wrongdoing in the trial, in which it is accused of buying a Nigerian offshore oilfield license in the knowledge that most of the $1.3 billion purchase price would be siphoned off to agents and middlemen in corrupt payments.

Oil major Shell (RDSa.L), which jointly bought the offshore field with Eni, is also on trial for corruption over the deal. It too denies any wrongdoing.

Eni also denies any wrongdoing in relation to a separate investigation where prosecutors are looking into allegations that Eni sought to obstruct justice in the Nigeria case.

Armanna, who led Eni’s project to acquire the OPL-245 field in 2011, has told investigators he was informed by a security official for the then Nigerian president that $50 million had been set aside for top Eni management under the deal.

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