As the four civil society groups who filed a complaint in 2017 against Shell over alleged corruption in the purchase of the OPL 245 oil field in Nigeria, we are deeply disappointed by the announcement that the investigation has now been terminated.
The Dutch Prosecutors’ Office had previously made it clear to Shell that there was sufficient evidence to prosecute the company on a number of counts.
The Prosecutors now claim that they have been forced to end the case under the so-called double jeopardy rules because a parallel case in Italy, where Shell and its partner oil company Eni were charged with international corruption, has been concluded. This conclusion followed from the highly controversial withdrawal of an appeal against the previous (equally controversial) acquittal of the companies.
As a result of the Italian authorities’ decision, Shell will not be held accountable before the Dutch Courts, despite the Dutch authorities having a prosecutable case.
The Dutch authorities have spent considerable time and resources on this investigation to date which raises questions about the extent to which cross-border “collaboration” on cases is at risk where jurisdictions such as Italy adopt weak interpretations of shared treaty commitments to fighting corruption.
As plaintiffs in this case, we are currently exploring all legal options at our disposal, in addition to raising concerns with international bodies that oversees the anti-corruption treaties to which The Netherlands and Italy are party.
Global Witness, United Kingdom
The Corner House, United Kingdom