Oil and gas company Royal Dutch Shell disclosed that Dutch prosecutors are preparing to levy criminal charges concerning a long-running corruption scandal to acquire oil exploration rights in Nigeria.
Shell announced on March 1 that it has “been informed by the Dutch Public Prosecutor’s Office (DPP) that they are nearing the conclusion of their investigation and are preparing to prosecute Royal Dutch Shell for criminal charges directly or indirectly related to the 2011 settlement of disputes over Oil Prospecting License 245 (OPL 245) in Nigeria.”
In 2011, Shell and Italian oil company Eni paid $1.1 billion to secure rights to one of Africa’s most valuable oil blocks, known as OPL 245—a murky deal that Global Witness has been investigating ever since. The heart of Global Witness’s report, “Shell Knew,” shows that the money for the deal went directly into the pockets of Dan Etete, former Nigerian Minister of Petroleum and a convicted money launderer, who had awarded himself ownership of the block in 1998 through a company he secretly owned called, “Malabu Oil and Gas.”
Shell and two of its former senior executives, Peter Robinson and Malcolm Brinded, are facing a separate criminal trial in Italy over the corruption scandal—surrounding claims that the executives knew that payments for OPL 245 were going to corrupt Nigerian officials, including Etete.
“As appropriate,” Shell said, “we will provide updates as this matter progresses.”