The U.S. Department of Justice ("DOJ") and U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC") investigated Shell and two of its subsidiaries for alleged U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act ("FCPA") violations in connection with their use of Panalpina for logistics and freight forwarding services in Nigeria. On November 4, 2010, a criminal information was filed charging SNEPCO with conspiring to violate the FCPA's anti-bribery and books and records provisions, and with aiding and abetting a violation of the books and records provisions. The charges relate to SNEPCO payment of approximately USD 2 million to its subcontractors, knowing that some or all of the money would be paid as bribes to Nigerian customs officials by Panalpina in order to import materials and equipment into the country.
OPL 245 scheme
Separately, the concession for offshore oil block OPL 245, which industry sources have said could contain up to 9.23 billion barrels of crude, was awarded to Eni SpA and Royal Dutch Shell by the Nigerian government in 2011 for USD 1.3 billion. The companies allegedly gave USD 801 million to the former Nigerian oil minister Dan Etete and a company he owns, Malabu. Emails published by Global Witness indicate that executives at Shell were informed and had reason to believe or know that part of the payment would go to then-President Goodluck Jonathan, as well as others in Nigeria, as bribes. President Goodluck Jonathan allegedly received between USD 200 million and USD 500 million. Emails also indicate that Shell was aware that the payment would go to Dan Etete. In a phone call recorded in 2016, Shell's CEO Ben van Beurden and then-CFO Simon Henry expressed concern that the deal violated the FCPA.
In March 2018, Shell and Eni voluntarily disclosed findings of their respective internal probes to regarding acquisition of OPL 245 to the DOJ and SEC. Shell additionally submitted the disclosure to the SFO. Both companies denied wrongdoing in the acquisition, stating that the USD 1.3 billion payment for the OPL 245 block to the Nigerian government was legitimate.
OML 42 Scheme
During an internal investigation on OPL 245, Shell found evidence that Peter Robinson, its former vice president for sub-Saharan Africa, may have committed bribery in the USD 390 million sale of oil block OML 42 in Nigeria in 2011. The bribes were funneled by a Seychelles-based company set up by Robinson and linked to two Swiss bank accounts under his name.
In March 2018, Robinson denied any wrongdoing related to the sale of OML 42. Eni clarified that all its interests in OML 42 were legitimate and in compliance with the standard bidding process without any kickbacks.
On 17 February 2016, 50 officers of the Italian financial police and Dutch anti-fraud team raided Shell headquarters in the Hague in relation to the Nigerian allegations. In addition, the Dutch home of former Nigerian Attorney General Mohammed Bello Adoke was also reportedly searched.
According to media reports on 8 February 2017, Italian prosecutors have asked that Eni and Royal Dutch Shell stand trial over the corruption charges. In October 2017, prosecutors asked for the indictment of the two companies and several past and present managers, on charges of an alleged bribery plot to win oil exploration rights in Nigeria. The Italian judge is expected to decide on the indictment on 20 December. Managers listed in the request include current Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi; Malcolm Brinded, Shell's UK chairman from 1999 to 2002; Peter Robinson, former VP for Shell's sub-Saharan Africa operations; and two other former Shell employees, Guy Colegate and John Copleston.
19 March 2018 - the trial of Eni and Shell was postponed until 14 May 2018.
13 May 2018 - the trial against Eni and Shell for paying bribes to Nigerian officials to secure oil exploration rights and drilling licenses in Nigeria has commenced. Fifteen defendants -- former employees of each company an Dan Etete, Nigeria's ex-Minister of Petroleum -- face trial, although Etete's location is apparently unknown.
13 June 2018, Italy’s Supreme Court rejected Shell and its managers’ appeal to end the graft trial on Shell and Eni’s allegedly corruptive purchase of OPL-245 oilfield in Nigeria.
In December 2018, Italy's prosecutors charged former Russian ambassador in Colombia Ednan Tofik ogly Agaev with international corruption related to Shell's purchase of OPL 245 oilfield back in 2011, by paying USD 1.1 billion to obtain a license to explore the oilfield.
March 2018 - Milan prosecutor amid the graft probe on OML 42, requested Swiss authorities to freeze the two bank accounts at a Geneva bank under the name of Seychelles-based Energy Venture Partners Ltd and probe the ties to Robinson.
In February 2016, Dutch police raided Shell's office in The Hague. The Dutch Public Prosecutor is conducting a joint investigation with Italian authorities into Shell's purchase of the offshore concession in Nigeria.
March 2018 - Shell filed a criminal complaint against Peter Robinson with the Dutch authorities over the alleged bribes related to the sale of OML 42. Dutch prosecutors subsequently included Peter Robinson in the ongoing probe of Shell and Eni’s purchase of OPL 245.
The anti-graft agency allegedly filed new charges against Royal Dutch Shell and Eni SpA in 2017. In January, a court ordered Royal Dutch Shell and Eni SpA to give control of the license to the government while government investigations were conducted.
13 May 2018 - Human & Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA) is challenging Eni and Shell in court for their second trial. HEDA is seeking to strip Eni and Shell of their oil production licenses in Nigeria. The trial is slated to begin on 13 June 2018.
According to press reports, in October 2010 Shell paid a USD 10 million fine to the Nigerian government to resolve its domestic investigation into the matter.
In March 2018, the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) in assisting the graft probe on OML 42, blocked three bank accounts respectively in Lugano, Basel, and Geneva; confiscated assets; and provided information to the Italian authorities.
Shell notified UK authorities about the Dutch raid of Shell's office in The Hague in February 2016 and gave the authorities the results of Shell's internal investigation.
In March 2018, Shell voluntarily disclosed findings of the internal probe to the SFO about its acquisition of OPL 245, and reported its finding of evidence that Peter Robinson, its former vice president for sub-Saharan Africa, may have committed bribery to secure the purchase of oil block OML 42 in Nigeria in 2011.
On November 4, 2010, the DOJ and Shell entered into a deferred prosecution agreement that requires, among other things, SNEPCO to pay a USD 30 million criminal penalty.
In a related SEC action on the same day, Shell and its U.S. subsidiary, Shell International Exploration and Production Inc., agreed to a pay approximately USD 18.1 million in disgorgement of profits and prejudgment interest.
Shell notified US authorities about the Dutch raid of Shell's office in The Hague in February 2016 and gave the authorities the results of Shell's internal investigation.
March 2018 - Shell and Eni voluntarily disclosed findings of their internal probe regarding the acquisition of OPL 245 to the DOJ and SEC.