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Four Shell execs charged in Italy

MILAN, October 17, 2017 – Four senior Royal Dutch Shell officials and the company itself have been charged in Italy in a USD 1-billion bribery case in Nigeria, international media reported Monday.

Malcolm Brinded, former executive director for upstream international; Peter Robinson, former vice-president for Shell’s sub-Saharan Africa operations; Guy Colegate, a business adviser; and John Copleston, a strategic investment adviser have all been charged with bribery in relation to the 2011 sale of the OPL 245 offshore block to Shell and Eni. In legal documents, Italian prosecutor Fabio de Pasquale has identified Colegate and Copleston as having “previously worked for MI6.”


“This could be the biggest corporate bribery trial in history, and a watershed moment for the oil industry. The top brass of the UK’s largest company is in the dock after it finally admitted dealing with a convicted money launderer. There can be no clearer sign that wholesale change is needed. Shell must first apologise to the Nigerian people, then take clear steps to reassure investors and the broader public that this won’t happen again,” said Barnaby Pace, an oil campaigner at the Global Witness watchdog, in a press release.  

At the annual shareholder meeting in April 2017, Eni board chairwoman Emma Marcegaglia said the company had only ever dealt with the Nigerian government. The same month Shell issued a statement to Reuters that it knew some of the payments made for the block would go to Malabu Oil and Gas, in which former oil minister and convicted money launderer Dan Etete holds a large stake, “to settle its claim on the block.” 

In January 2017, a Nigerian court had transferred assets and operations in the OPL 245 offshore block, owned by Eni and Shell and operated by Eni, back to the government in relation to the bribery case. Eni and Shell subsequently initiated separate legal procedures to have the forfeiture declared void, and succeeded.

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