The $1.3bn transaction from 2011 aimed to settle dispute over a licence
Royal Dutch Shell warned on Friday that prosecutors in the Netherlands are preparing to issue criminal charges to the energy major over a controversial 2011 Nigerian oil deal worth $1.3bn. The company said in a statement: “We have been informed by the Dutch Public Prosecutor’s Office that they are nearing the conclusion of their investigation and are preparing to prosecute Royal Dutch Shell plc for criminal charges directly or indirectly related to the 2011 settlement of disputes over Oil Prospecting License 245 (OPL 245) in Nigeria.” The deal aimed to settle years of wrangling over the ownership of the OPL 245 oil licence, that has since ensnared Shell and rival oil and gas company Eni in bribery investigations in Milan. The offshore oil development was tossed back and forth between Anglo-Dutch Shell and Nigerian group Malabu, backed by former oil minister Dan Etete, who first awarded the domestic player the rights in 1998 when he was also the petroleum minister. The Nigerian government has argued it has been the victim of a serious fraud involving payments of bribes to former and current Nigerian politicians and oil executives via the transfer of funds through Malabu accounts. Shell and Eni have said their transaction was a legitimate deal with the federal government of Nigeria and they had no part to play in what happened to the money afterwards. In 2016 investigators from the Dutch Financial Intelligence and Investigation Service and the public prosecutor’s office raided Shell’s headquarters in The Hague in connection with the OPL 245 deal.