Milan prosecutors opened an investigation into the deal earlier this year and have now widened the net to include new Eni CEO Descalzi in a case relating to its $1.09 billion acquisition of Nigeria’s OPL-245 offshore oil block in 2011.
“Eni is cooperating with the Milan prosecutor’s office, and is confident that the correctness of its actions will emerge during the course of the investigation,” it said in a statement.
Descalzi, a long-standing executive at the state-controlled major, took the helm at the state-controlled major from Paolo Scaroni who is under investigation for alleged corruption in Algeria. Scaroni has denied the charges.
A judicial source told Reuters on Thursday that Scaroni was also being investigated in the Nigerian corruption case. Eni said in a statement its Operations and Technology Officer Roberto Casula was also being investigated.
Earlier this year, the cross-party coalition government of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi pressed state-controlled companies to introduce ethics rules into their bylaws, aiming to eject directors charged of financial crimes.
But motions put forward by the main state shareholder of Eni were thrown out by investors at a shareholder meeting in May.
In July, court sources said Italian prosecutors had opened an investigation into the Nigerian oil field buyout by Eni and Shell.
At 0936 GMT Eni shares were down about 1 percent, under-performing the European oil and gas sector stocks index .
“It’s not great news but I’m afraid this is standard stuff in countries like Nigeria,” an Eni fund shareholder said.
Descalzi, who was head of the group’s exploration and production (E&P) unit at the time of the Nigerian deal, was appointed CEO of Eni in May.