Reuters: Shell says it knew some Nigeria payments would go to criminal

|By:, SA News Editor

Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A, RDS.B) says it knew that some of the payments it made to Nigeria for the rights to an oilfield would go through the government to a company associated with a former Nigerian oil minister and convicted money launderer.

A spokesperson tells Reuters that Shell knew that the former oil minister was "involved" with the company but had not confirmed that he controlled the company; Shell previously had said only that its payments from the 2011 deal went to the Nigerian government.

The spokesperson says Shell believes the settlement was a fully legal transaction with the Nigerian government.

The remarks come amid mounting pressure over the deal, in which Shell and Eni (NYSE:E) paid $1.3B for the rights to block OPL 245, which industry estimates say could hold more than 9B barrels of oil.