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Report: Nigerian government sues Shell, Eni for 'corrupt' oil deal

The Federal Republic of Nigeria is suing Royal Dutch Shell PLC, Eni SpA and other companies for more than $1 billion for an alleged corrupt oil deal in 2011.

In an article released December 13, Bloomberg said the suit filed Dec. 12 involves a $1.1 billion payment made to acquire an oil exploration license in the Gulf of Guinea that was diverted to bribes and kickbacks by "corrupt Nigerian officials," according to the Nigerian government.

The Nigerian government stressed Shell and Eni are partly responsible for the behavior of the Nigerian officials. The suit seeks to recover the money, which it said belongs to the Nigerian people.

Malabu Oil & Gas Ltd. and Energy Venture Partners Ltd., which is allegedly controlled by Nigeria's former Petroleum Minister Dan Etete, are also involved in the suit. Etete allegedly took the $1.1 billion payment used for bribes.

The transaction for Block OPL 245 is also the subject of an ongoing criminal trial in Milan.

Shell and Eni denied any wrongdoing in the criminal case in the Milan court. The defendants said they made the payment into a legitimate government account to settle legal claims relevant to the block.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. was also sued for allegedly failing to prevent the illicit transfer of funds related to the transaction. The bank said the claim holds no merit.