International law firm McDermott Will & Emery helped to secure a stellar win in the Milan Court of Appeal, where a long-standing client, along with numerous co-defendants, has been totally cleared of alleged bribery charges in a highly publicised prosecution.
Following four years of trial proceedings, the Firm’s Corporate Crime & Investigations team in London led by partner Simon Airey delivered the best possible result for their client, working with Italian advocate Giuseppe Bianchi. The Court of Appeal upheld a ruling by the court of first instance acquitting all defendants on the basis that there was no case to answer.
The trial was one of the most high profile in recent Italian criminal history. It was highly complex, involving 15 separate defendants (including Shell and the Italian state-owned oil company, ENI) and two sets of related proceedings in Italy.
McDermott’s client had been accused of being part of an international conspiracy to pay bribes to Nigerian government officials to help Shell and ENI to jointly acquire the licence to one of the most valuable oil blocks in Nigeria known as “OPL 245”. After extensive witness evidence and detailed submissions on the facts and the law, the trial court dismissed the case against all defendants, determining that there was no case to answer – the strongest possible formulation of acquittal available under Italian law. The Court of Appeal upheld that ruling after the deputy Attorney General in Milan abandoned an appeal which had been lodged by the prosecution.
Commenting on the result, Simon Airey said: “This is the best possible outcome for our client, and we are delighted to have been able to contribute to this success. Our client should never have been involved in this case, which itself should never have been brought against any of the parties in the first place.”
Senior Associate Joshua Domb added: “We have always considered that the allegations against our client were inappropriate and based on a number of fundamental misconceptions, compounded by an imperfect understanding of the nuance of documents and emails that were written in English, not Italian. Whilst it has taken a very long time, I am delighted that we have succeeded in totally clearing our client’s name.”
McDermott’s white-collar and government investigations team includes highly experienced lawyers in offices in London, Europe and throughout the United States. The team has significant experience in numerous jurisdictions, earning consistent recognition amongst clients and in major legal directories.
McDermott Will & Emery partners with leaders around the world to fuel missions, knock down barriers and shape markets. Our team works seamlessly across practices and industries to deliver highly effective solutions that propel success. More than 1,200 lawyers strong, we bring our personal passion and legal prowess to bear in every matter for our clients and the people they serve.
Emilia Byrne+44 20 7570 1424