A Nigeria court has overturned a request by the country's financial crime agency to seize the OPL245 oilfield from Royal Dutch Shell and Eni after reports of fraud
According to Reuters, in January, a court had ordered the seizure of the OPL 245 oil block and transfer of operations to the federal government on the request of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The EFCC is investigating whether the US$1.3bn purchase of OPL245 in 2011 involved "acts of conspiracy, bribery, official corruption and money laundering", according to court papers seen in January by Reuters.
"The chairman of the EFCC failed to meet the precondition for making an application for interim attachment of properties. So the application as such was irregular and the order granted on its basis ought to be discharged," Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court said.
"Eni reaffirms the correctness of its conduct within the acquisition of the license," Roberto Carlo Albini, the Eni spokesperson said.
A spokesperson from Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company has welcomed the judgment and said "as the case itself, relating to the 2011 settlement of the associated long-standing disputes of the offshore block, is the subject of ongoing investigations, it would be inappropriate to comment further."