Eni faces Nigeria graft probe
By Upstream staff
Italian authorities have searched the offices of an Eni subsidiary as part of an inquiry into a bribery scheme relating to the building of natural gas facilities in Nigeria, police sources said on Saturday.
They confirmed a report in Corriere della Sera newspaper on the opening of the probe by Milan prosecutors and the Friday search of the offices in San Donato, a Milan suburb.
Two managers of the former Snamprogetti oilfield services unit had been named as being under investigation, Reuters reported citing the same sources. Snamprogetti is now part of Saipem, a subsidiary of oil company Eni.
The Milan probe is the Italian portion of an international inquiry into $182 million in bribes paid from 1994 to 2004 by the TSKJ consortium to secure $6 billion euros in contracts to build Nigerian liquefied natural gas facilities.
The group was headed by former Halliburton Co unit KBR. It included Snamprogetti, France's Technip, and Japan's JGC Corporation.
An Eni spokeswoman said, "On the facts relating to the TSKJ consortium arising from the period before 2004, there is an inquiry under way by Milan prosecutors, the SEC (the US Securities and Exchange Commission) and the US Justice Department who will ascertain the facts and
She added, "Eni and Saipem-Snamprogetti have voluntarily been in contact with investigators for some time to provide them the utmost cooperation."
KBR pleaded guilty in February to US charges that it paid $180 million in bribes to Nigerian officials in the scheme.
KBR agreed to pay a $402 million fine, of which Halliburton agreed to pay $302 million. Halliburton also agreed with US securities regulators to disgorge $177 million in profits to settle parallel criminal charges.
Corriere della Sera said the search was aimed at determining whether grounds existed to designate Snamprogetti itself as being under investigation. The deadline for naming the company is the end of July.Monday, 20 July, 2009, 01:40 GMT | last updated: Monday, 20 July,
2009, 06:31 GMT