Malabu scandal: Nigerian witness punctures bribery case against ENI in Milan

A Nigerian witness, Isaac Chinonyerem Eke in a graft case involving oil contracts in Nigeria refused to confirm a key statement during a court hearing on Wednesday, offering a possible boost to Italian oil major Eni, which is fighting allegations of bribery.

In one of the oil industry’s biggest scandals, Italian prosecutors allege Eni and Shell bought a Nigerian oilfield 245 in 2011, knowing that most of the $1.3 billion purchase price would be siphoned off to agents and middlemen.

Both firms and the managers accused in the Milan court case, including Eni’s current chief executive Claudio Descalzi, have denied any wrongdoing.

Prosecutors have presented allegations by former Eni manager Vincenzo Armanna that the cash-laden trolleys were handed over to Eni managers by way of backhanders in 2011.

Armanna, a defendant in the case, based those allegations on conversations he said he had had with former AIG of police, Isaac Chinonyerem Eke.

But on Wednesday, Eke denied having met Armanna before 2014, despite statements in a letter bearing his signature and filed with the court that the two had met in 2009.

Eke said he had met Armanna briefly on only two occasions, once in 2014 and once in 2015.

A prosecutor said this represented “a total denial of signed declarations”, adding that prosecutors would consider whether there were grounds for charges of false testimony.

Asked in court if he had been contacted by someone in Nigeria before testifying in Milan, Eke said he had met General Mohammed Babagana Monguno, the National Security Adviser who Eke called “head of the secret services”.

Eke said he had simply told Monguno what he knew and what he would say in court. (PMnews)

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