An Italian judge has ordered Nigerian businessman, Alhaji Aliyu Abubakar to stand trial for alleged international corruption relating to a Nigeria oil graft case involving Eni and Shell.
According to Milan prosecutors, Abubakar, a billionaire and chairman of AA Oil, was involved in one of the oil industry’s biggest scandals in years, handing out more than $500 million in cash to powerful Nigerian government officials.
The money is alleged to come out of the $1.3 billion licence fee paid by Eni and Shell for access to the OPL-245 offshore oilfield located in the southern Niger Delta.
Abubakar’s Italian lawyer, Davide Pozzi, said his client, who lives in Nigeria, has denied having a hand in the accusations.
He said: “Mr Abubakar will clarify his position in the appropriate place,”
Italian prosecutors believe that Eni and Shell bought the oilfield in 2011 knowing that most of the purchase price would be siphoned off to middlemen and local politicians.
Both firms and the managers accused in the Milan court case, including Eni’s current chief executive Claudio Descalzi, have denied the accusations.
Abubakar was already under investigation but prosecutors were unable to locate him to serve the necessary deeds to put him on trial until he appeared in the case as a witness via a video linkup in February 2019.
The trial has been scheduled to hold on May 14.