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FG hires litigation firm, Franklin Wyatt, in legal battle with Eni S.p.A

The Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources has employed the services of Franklin Wyatt, a litigation settlement specialist, to take part in the talks with Eni S.p.A in a long-running dispute over oil rights and bribery allegations.

According to Bloomberg, the London-based consultancy, Franklin Wyatt, was contracted by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, to represent and advise the Federal Government on outstanding commercial and legal issues over Oil Prospecting License 245 (OPL 245), through a letter dated June 29 and addressed to Matthew Carey, the Managing Partner of the firm.

This disclosure was made by the spokesman for the Minister of State for Petroleum, Garba Deen Muhammad.

The letter to the firm partly reads, “This serves as confirmation that Franklin Wyatt’s recruitment was approved by Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, and may be produced as evidence of the firm’s authority to represent the ministry in discussions with relevant counterparties.”

It was earlier reported that the Nigerian government, at a hearing into the alleged corruption linked to Eni and Shell’s acquisition of OPL 245, called for a guilty verdict and an advance payment of about $1.1 billion for damages, in one of the oil industry’s biggest-ever corruption trials.

Eni has also accused both Nigeria and US investment firm for assisting the country with its litigation against the Italian oil firm and accused Royal Dutch Shell of a lack of transparency in the $1.1 billion energy deal.

What you should know

  • The 2011 purchase of OPL 245 by Eni and Royal Dutch Shell Plc has been subject to years of legal wrangling. The two companies, as well as some current and former executives, are on trial in Milan for allegedly making corrupt payments during the deal.
  • Italian prosecutors have accused the companies of moving $1.1 billion into a Nigerian government escrow account to obtain the license in 2011, about $800 himillion of which was then used to pay bribes into private pockets.
  • The current Nigerian government, which came to power five years ago, joined the case in 2018 as a civil party and asked for at least $1.1 billion in damages, while prosecutors are seeking a jail term of eight years for Eni Chief Executive Officer Claudio Descalzi. The tribunal is expected to rule early next year.