The case against oil giants ENI and Shell on allegations of corruption in Nigeria could be one of the biggest corporate corruption trials in history, says Global Witness.
The anti-corruption watchdog reacted after a judge said the case is going to be heard in an Italian court next year after a lengthy investigation by Italian prosecutors.
The prize was nine billion barrels of crude oil – an oil block off Nigeria’s coast secured by Shell and ENI in 2011.
But the allegation is that the oil giants paid a huge bribe to get it, paying Nigerian politicians.
Now the two companies are being formally charged, as well as the current CEO of ENI and former senior executives from Shell.
The prosecution say the oil companies used a middleman called Dan Etete to pay the bribe.
Mr Etete will also go on trial.
Emails sent between Shell management, which were released by anti-corruption watchdog Global Witness in April, suggest Shell was aware the money would end up in the pockets of Nigerian politicians.
But both ENI and Shell say there is no case against them (see earlier entry).