Eni moves to settle Congo Republic oil permit probe

Italian energy group Eni has filed a request with Milan prosecutors to pay 11.8 million euros ($14 million) to settle an investigation into oil permits in Congo Republic, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on Thursday.

The sources said Eni’s move came after prosecutors agreed to downgrade the allegations from international bribery to undue inducement.

Eni, which acknowledged the investigation in 2018 but has always denied any wrongdoing, was not immediately available for comment.

Settling a criminal case in Italy does not involve any admission of guilt or responsibility.

The prosecutors have agreed to a deal that would involve the payment of 800,000 euros as “agreed penalty” and the seizure of a further 11 million euros as profit from the alleged offense in order to close the case, the sources said.

The request was filed on March 15, they said, adding a judge is expected to approve the settlement in a hearing scheduled for March 25.

The probe, first launched in 2017, revolves around allegations that in order to win renewals of oil licenses in 2015, Eni had agreed to sell stakes in the licenses to a Congolese company whose shareholders included Congo public officials.

Eni has said it had no role in the allocation of licenses or in the Congolese government’s choice of a local partner.

On Wednesday, a Milan court acquitted Eni and Shell in one of the oil industry’s biggest corruption cases revolving around the $1.3 billion acquisition of a Nigerian oilfield a decade ago. 

($1 = 0.8390 euros)

By Emilio Parodi; 

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