Italy court verdict in Nigeria corruption case expected end March

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MILAN (Reuters) - Italian judges are expected to hand down their verdict on Shell and Eni in one of the oil industry’s biggest-ever corruption trials at the end of March, a top court official said on Wednesday.

Marco Tremolada, president of the judges that will pass sentence, said lawyers for the two companies would be heard in January, followed by prosecutors and defence lawyers in February.

A final decision could then be reached by the end of March, he said.

The long-running graft case revolves around the purchase of the Nigerian OPL 245 offshore oil field in 2011 for about $1.3 billion.

Prosecutors allege that about $1.1 billion of that was siphoned off to politicians and middlemen.

The companies and defendants involved, including Eni’s current CEO Claudio Descalzi, have all denied any wrongdoing.

Reporting by Alfredo Faieta, writing by Stephen Jewkes;Editing by Elaine Hardcastle