Eni SpA is seeking documents from a US investment firm helping Nigeria sue it and Royal Dutch Shell Plc for more than $1 billion over an energy deal at the center of a criminal corruption trial.
Eni claims that “undisclosed interests” are driving the Nigerian government’s litigation strategy “at the expense of Eni’s contractual rights and the national interest of Nigeria.” The Italian oil company wants permission to subpoena information from the investment firm, Drumcliffe Partners LLC, to help its defense in the corruption trial in Milan, which Nigeria has joined as a civil party. It’s the latest episode in a long-running dispute over a 2011 transaction, pitting Africa’s largest producer of crude against the two energy companies.
Nigeria’s government initially supported Eni’s plans for developing its offshore permit, known as Oil Prospecting License 245, but subsequently “elected to wage a multi-jurisdictional litigation campaign” against the company, Eni said in a memorandum filed in U.S. District Court in Wilmington, Delaware, on Oct. 6. Eni said it now has reason to believe the government’s actions “are driven by third parties seeking to earn illicit profits,” and has applied for authorization to request that seven Delaware-registered Drumcliffe companies produce documents on the arrangements they set up for Nigeria’s OPL 245 litigation.
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