Eni and Shell’s acquittal by an Italian court of foreign bribery threatens to undermine one of the major advances of the fight against corruption: the OECD Antibribery Convention. Italy and the 43 other wealthy nations parties to the Convention pledge to investigate, prosecute, and punish nationals who bribe officials of another government.
The trial court’s acquittal of Eni, Shell, and four individuals of paying Nigerian officials over $1.1 billion in return for the rights to OPL-245, a lucrative offshore oil field, shocked those following the case. The bribery evidence on the public record was overwhelming. Rumors that the acquittal was bought immediately began circulating. When the prosecutor announced she would not to appeal the acquittal, the rumor mill went into overdrive and put the question Italy’s commitment to the Convention squarely on the international agenda.
And if a G-7 country backs away from it, how long before other parties follow? Especially when, as in Italy, one of their major companies is in the dock?
Below is a letter from a broad coalition of civil society groups, and the lawyer who represents Nigeria in foreign bribery cases asking U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to open a case against Eni and Shell for bribing Nigerian officials. As the authors explain, because Eni and Shell are both subject to Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, when the allegations involving Nigeria first surfaced the U.S. had initiated an investigation. After Italy signaled it was also investigating the companies, the U.S. deferred and closed its case. Now that Italy has utterly failed to see the case through, they urge the U.S. to pick up the ball.
Dear Mr. Attorney General:
Urgent action required by US to defend the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention: The Department of Justice must reopen its investigation into Eni and ShellContinue reading