Shell facing Dutch criminal prosecution over Nigerian operations

Royal Dutch Shell has said it is facing potential criminal charges in the Netherlands relating to its operations in Nigeria.

The Dutch Public Prosecutor’s Office (DPP) has informed the energy giant that it is nearing the conclusion of an investigation and is “preparing to prosecute Royal Dutch Shell”.

It is linked to the 2011 settlement of disputes over an oil prospecting licence in Nigeria, known as OPL 245.

Shell, along with peer Eni, has been dogged by legal action relating to the lucrative oil bloc.

The Nigerian government has filed a billion-dollar claim against the duo over alleged fraud and corruption that it claims diverted millions of dollars from the African nation.

The funds were allegedly used for “bribes and kickbacks”, according to the Nigerian government.

It alleged that money used in the deal was paid to a company called Malabu, controlled by Nigeria’s former oil minister, Dan Etete.

A separate criminal trial relating to the deal is continuing in Italy.

Shell has said it does not believe there is a case to answer.

The firm added on Friday: “As appropriate, we will provide updates as this matter progresses.”

The news comes after Shell in January revealed its biggest profit haul for four years after earnings surged 36% thanks to higher oil and gas prices.

The blue chip giant posted underlying earnings of 21.4 billion US dollars (£16.3 billion) for 2018, ahead of expectations.