Public Prosecutor’s Office dismisses criminal investigation into bribery by Shell in Nigeria
Following an Italian request for legal assistance, the Public Prosecutor's Office launched a criminal investigation into Royal Dutch Shell plc (Shell) in early 2016. The Italian and Dutch criminal investigations both focused on possible bribery by Shell of a former president in Nigeria, to reobtain exploration rights of a Nigerian offshore oil field. On 19 July 2022 the Italian criminal case ended in an acquittal for Shell. As a result, the Dutch Public Prosecutor's Office dismisses the criminal case against Shell.
Final acquittal in Italy
The Netherlands and Italy cooperated intensively through a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) and exchanged information on this basis. The Italian prosecutor summoned Shell to the court in Milan on 26 January 2018. The Dutch criminal investigation had not yet been completed at that time. On 17 March 2021 Shell was acquitted in the first instance in Italy. The Milan Public Prosecutor lodged an appeal against this judgment. On 19 July 2022 the Milan General Prosecutor withdrew the appeal. Shell's acquittal has therefore become irrevocable.
Settlement in the Netherlands
Shell had not yet been summoned to appear in the Netherlands because the criminal investigation had not yet been completed. Moreover, there were still proceedings regarding the possible privilege of in-house counsel of Shell. The final judgment in Italy makes it impossible for the Dutch Public Prosecutor to issue a summons because of the ne bis in idem principle. This means that if a suspect has been irrevocably acquitted by a criminal court, the same suspect may not be brought before a court and tried again for the same offence.
For this reason, the Public Prosecutor decided to dismiss the criminal case against Shell.