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Italian prosecutors indicted for failing to file evidence in Eni-Nigeria bribery case

Two Italian prosecutors were sent to trial Wednesday for allegedly failing to file evidence in favour of defendants, who were later all acquitted, in the Eni-Nigeria ‘bribes’ case.

The assistant public prosecutor of the city of Milan, Fabio De Pasquale, and Sergio Spadaro, the prosecutor who is now at the European Public Prosecutor’s Office, have been remanded for trial in Brescia.

The charge against them is refusal to carry out official acts, as they allegedly failed to file evidence in favour of the defendants, all of whom were later definitively acquitted, in the Eni-Nigeria trial.

The indictments were issued by Brescia’s preliminary hearings judge (GUP), Christian Colombo.

On May 16, the trial will begin.

Fabio De Pasquale and Sergio Spadaro. Photo: AFP

In March 2021, a Milan court acquitted Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi and its former chief, later AC Milan President Paolo Scaroni, of paying bribes to land the OPL 245 oil licence in Nigeria in 2011.

Eni and Shell were also acquitted.

All 15 defendants, including former Nigerian oil minister Dan Etete, were also acquitted.

The trial lasted over three years.

At the start of January 2022, the Brescia Public Prosecutor’s Office decided to reopen the investigations on the Milanese prosecutors De Pasquale and Spadaro following the accusation that they had hidden evidence useful for the defence in the Eni-Nigeria bribery case.

The reopening of the investigation after the suspects had already been notified of the closing act of the investigation is a rare and unusual occurence. But this time, the Brescia prosecutor Francesco Prete and his assistant Donato Greco asked for more time after hearing from the two Milanese prosecutors who had been questioned at the beginning of December.

De Pasquale and Spadaro, assisted by the lawyer Caterina Malavenda, defended themselves from the accusation of not having filed “in favour of the defence.”

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