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U.S. Congresswomen Urge DOJ To Reopen FCPA Investigation Into Shell And Eni

Financial Services

As highlighted in this prior post, approximately seven years ago, Royal Dutch Shell and Eni became the subject of scrutiny in various countries concerning its acquisition of Oil Prospecting License 245 in Nigeria.

As highlighted in this prior post, in early 2021 the companies and various executives went to trial in Italy over a $1 billion payment made in connection with OPL 245 that prosecutors maintained was mostly for the purpose of bribes. The companies and the various executives were all acquitted.

Recently, Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA) and Representative Joyce Beatty (D-OH) authored this letter to U.S. Attorney General  Merrick Garland urging the DOJ to reopen an FCPA investigation into Shell and Eni regarding their 2011 purchase of the rights to OPL 245.

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Friday Roundup


Acquitted, scrutiny alert, under scrutiny again, across the pond, and compassionate release. It’s all here in the Friday roundup.


The so-called conventional wisdom in the U.S. is that business organizations under Foreign Corrupt Practices Act scrutiny (particularly publicly-traded corporations) simply can’t put the DOJ (or SEC for that matter) to its burden of proof in an enforcement action because it is too risky and may result in a “death sentence” for the company.

As highlighted in this post, the conventional wisdom is b.s., but the narrative still persists. In other countries however, corporations more frequently put government enforcement agencies to their burdens of proof by making factual and legal arguments.

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Wow – The SEC Acknowledges That Section 13(b)(6) Exists


In 1988, the FCPA’s books and records and internal controls provisions were amended to include a de facto “good faith” compliance defense in certain situations involving issuers. (See 15 USC 78m(b)(6) – so-called Section 13(b)(6) of the ’34 Act). Since then, Section 13(b)(6) has seemed to be relevant to several Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement actions, however the enforcement actions were silent on this important statutory provision.

The recent Eni enforcement action (see here and here for prior posts) is believed to be the first FCPA enforcement to meaningfully address Section 13(b)(6). In this regard, wow – the SEC actually acknowledged that Section 13(b)(6) exists after completely ignoring this relevant statutory provision in several prior relevant enforcement actions. But did the SEC get it right?

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Issues To Consider From The Eni Enforcement Action


This prior post went in-depth into the recent Eni enforcement action and this post continues the analysis by highlighting additional issues to consider.


As stated in Eni’s recent disclosure: “In 2012, Eni contacted the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) and the U.S. SEC in order to voluntarily inform them about this matter, and has kept them informed about the developments in the Italian Prosecutors’ investigations and proceedings. Following Eni’s notification, both the U.S. SEC and the DoJ started their own investigations regarding this matter.”

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Eni Joins The Repeat Offender Club – This Time Resolves A $24.5 Million SEC FCPA Enforcement Action


As highlighted in this prior post, in 2010 ENI S.p.A (an Italy-based oil and gas company with American Depositary Shares listed on the New York Stock Exchange) along with its wholly-owned subsidiary Snamprogetti resolved a $125 million SEC Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement action concerning conduct in Nigeria.

On Friday, the SEC announced that ENI resolved another FCPA enforcement action – this one a $24.5 million enforcement action concerning conduct in Algeria by Saipem S.p.A. (a minority-owned and controlled subsidiary during the relevant time period). The conduct at issue in the enforcement action occurred 10 – 13 years ago.

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