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Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Malabu scandal: Swiss court grants prosecutors access to ‘sensitive’ files

Malabu scandal: Swiss court grants prosecutors access to ‘sensitive’ files

A Swiss court has granted Italian prosecutors the permission to access materials seized from a Nigerian defendant which could shed light in the case of bribery linked to the sale of OPL 245 in 2011.

Geneva officials had seized the briefcase containing the materials from Emeka Obi in the course of investigations into the sale of the oil block to Royal Dutch Shell and Eni under controversial circumstances.

The sale of the block in 2011 has unfurled a chain of controversies now known as the Malabu scandal. An Italian court earlier ordered the prosecution of Shell and Eni executives for alleged bribery.

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Milan prosecutors alleged bribes were paid to win the license to explore the field which has not begun production.

Reuters is reporting that in a ruling on Monday, the federal tribunal rejected Obi’s appeal to prevent photocopies of files retrieved from the suitcase from being sent to Italian officials.

It ruled that the case was not covered in the scope of permissible appeals to the Lausanne-based tribunal.

Since seizing the suitcase more than three years ago, Geneva prosecutors have been studying the contents to decide what can be shared with Italian authorities.

The court was quoted as saying the confiscated material — including documents, an external hard drive, British and African passports, and USB keys — could have “potential pertinence” in the criminal investigation.

It also held that unsealing it does not violate Swiss laws.

In 2018, the federal tribunal rejected an appeal by Obi to prevent his suitcase from being unsealed.

The court sentenced Obi and Gianluca Di Nardo, an Italian, to a four-year jail term for complicity in the bribery scandal.

The Malabu oil deal is one of the most controversial cases in the global oil and gas industry.

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