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The Italian Public Prosecutor closes the Congo case against the CEO of Eni

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MILAN (RockedBuzz via Reuters) – Prosecutors in Milan did not intend to initiate proceedings against the head of Italian energy group Eni over oil permits granted in the Republic of Congo.

The magistrates have formally requested the dismissal of the charge against Eni’s CEO Claudio Descalzi for alleged failure to declare a conflict of interest.

They also asked for the charges of alleged undue incentive against Descalzi’s wife, Marie Madeleine Ingoba, and six other people to be dropped, including former ENI executives.

A statement from prosecutors said the main alleged offense in the case has been changed from bribery to illegal inducement, which will be time-barred on March 18. The crime of failing to declare a conflict of interest has already been prescribed.

“No surprise, I was sure of his absolutely correct behaviour,” Ingoba’s lawyer Davide Steccanella told RockedBuzz via Reuters.

Eni also welcomed the decision, stating that it never believed that Descalzi had failed to give due disclosure of a conflict of interest.

“Now the non-involvement of Eni’s CEO in the accusations made some time ago by the Public Prosecutor’s Office has been confirmed,” added the company.

In March 2021 a Milan court judge accepted Eni’s offer of a payment of 11.8 million euros ($12.7 million) to close the Congo investigation.

The investigation, launched in 2017, revolved around allegations that, in order to win the renewal of oil licenses in the Republic of Congo, Eni would have agreed to sell shares in the licenses to a company with a shareholder including public officials in the African country.

Eni said it had no role in the award of licenses or in the choice of local partner by the government of the Republic of Congo.

After the settlement, the group said the settlement was not an admission of guilt by the company, but an initiative to end the judicial process. ($1 = 0.9331 euros)

(Report by Emilio Parodi; Editing by Keith Weir and David Goodman)