A NIGERIAN businessman and his accomplice in Italy are to spend four years each in prison for their roles in the controversial Malabu oil deal, marking the first victory for Italian prosecutors in the complex corruption case.
The deal, struck in 2011 under President Goodluck Jonathan, saw the Nigerian Government stand as a negotiator in the controversial sale of OPL 245 oil block in offshore Nigerian waters.
Two international oil and gas giants, Royal Dutch Shell and Italian Agip-Eni, paid out about $1.1 billion to Dan Etete, a former Nigerian petroleum minister who had previously been convicted of money laundering in France.
The payout immediately became a subject of cross-border investigation spanning over six countries. Several Nigerian government officials were believed to have received several million dollars in bribes for the enabling roles they played.
Emeka Obi, a Nigerian consultant in England, and Gianluca Di Nardo, an Italian, stood as middlemen in connecting the parties and the transfer of the funds through international bank accounts.
They were found guilty and sentenced to four years imprisonment each on Thursday.
The pair had opted for a quick trial for their roles in the deal. The process in Italian law offers a possible reduction in any sentence.