An Italian court in Milan has acquitted energy groups Eni and Shell in the oil industry’s biggest corruption scandal.
The Milan court ruling comes barely a year after a court in the United Kingdom dismissed Nigeria’s claim for $1bn on the same case.
Prosecutors had prayed the court for an order compelling Eni and Royal Dutch Shell to pay $1.092bn as an immediate advance payment for damages and for a number of past and present managers from both companies, including Eni Chief Executive Claudio Descalzi, to be jailed.
The defendants have all denied any wrongdoing.
The panel of judges, headed by Marco Tremolada, withdrew to their chambers on Wednesday to consider their verdict after more than three years of proceedings and 74 hearings.
The long-running case revolves around the purchase of the OPL 245 offshore oilfield in Nigeria in 2011 from Malabu Oil and Gas, a company owned by former Minister of Petroleum Dan Etete.
The Malabu scam, described as one of the most fraudulent oil deals in the world, involved the payment of $1.1bn by oil giants, Shell and Eni, to the Federal Government accounts in 2011 for OPL 245, said to hold reserves of about 9.23 billion barrels of oil.
The OPL 245 was alleged to have been bought by Etete under suspicious circumstances in 1998.