Continental Focus, International Reach

Witness Reneges on Testimony in OPL 245 Trial

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Shell and ENI may have seen a bit of luck in their legal trial taking place in Milan in regard to OPL 245. One of the witnesses has reversed his statements in the case.

A retired Swiss oil executive who previously said he had knowledge of illicit dealings over the Nigerian oil block reversed his statements saying, “I’ve never had contact with Shell,” ex-executive Richard Granier-Deferre said. “I’ve never had relations with people from ENI in my entire career.”

Granier-Deferre said his previous statements were made under pressure and he knew of no illegal payments made by the companies.

The trial taking place in Milan centers around OPL 245, offshore Nigeria. It is one of the largest scandals over alleged corruption the oil industry has seen.

Prosecutors in Milan are arguing that when Shell and ENI paid more than $1 billion to settle legal disputes over the block and acquire rights to develop it, much of that payment went into bribes and kickbacks.

Shell is also facing criminal charges in The Netherlands over the block.