MILAN (Reuters) - A trial in Italy of Royal Dutch Shell and Eni executives over alleged corruption in Nigeria, which had been due to start on March 5, will be transferred to another court in Milan, delaying the proceedings, legal sources said.
Earlier this week, the Milan tribunal informed lawyers that the court which had been due to hear the trial had too many cases and could not guarantee that it would do so in a reasonable period of time, three sources told Reuters on Friday.
The case involves the 2011 purchase by Eni and Shell of Nigeria’s OPL-245 offshore oilfield - one of Africa’s most valuable oil blocks - for about $1.3 billion.
Milan prosecutors allege bribes were paid to win the license to explore the field, which has never entered into production.
All the accused have denied any wrongdoing.
The court is expected to set the new trial date on Monday, the sources said.
A Milan judge ruled in December that the companies, along with present and past executives, would face trial.
The Italian inquiry is one of several into the acquisition of OPL-245, including cases in the Netherlands and Nigeria.
Reporting by Emilio Parodi; writing by Francesca Landini; editing by Alexander Smith