Vincenzo Armanna

  • Eni employee until 2013, project leader during eni's negotiations with malabu and the nigerian government
  • Born on 27 February 1972
  • Italian  nationality

An expert in oil and gas and contracting. He has filed spontaneous statements accusing eni of international corruption

“I’m married, I have three children: 14, 12 and 5 years old, and I work essentially for a Saudi company, it’s called Taj Holding, I work in the transport and logistics sector, so I follow some of the biggest contracts that this company has in Saudi Arabia”. This is how Vincenzo Armanna presented himself, a defendant and at the same time great accuser of Eni, a company for which he worked until 2013.

In his interviews, Armanna made numerous statements that supported the Prosecution case against Eni. But the Court deemed that Armanna “is not reliable”, had a ‘volatile attitude’ and that his statements ‘were grossly false’. The judges stated ‘His opportunistic attitude reveals an ambiguous personality, capable of exploiting his role in court for personal gain and, in the final analysis, denotes an intrinsic unreliability’.

Having joined Eni at the end of 2006 as advisor for the procurement sector, Vincenzo Armanna was responsible for rewriting some of the company’s procedures and for carrying out specific due diligence in ‘somewhat peculiar’ countries (‘there were contracts that were not registered, not catalogued, which had given rise to unjustified exits from the company’) such as Iran.

Then in 2009, he said in court, ‘I came in as Vice President of the sub-Saharan area under Dr. Casula’ (Roberto Casula, another co-defendant in the Opl 245 trial, fully acquitted in the first instance, like Vincenzo Armanna and the other co-defendants). Armanna’s duties included following the evolution of oil licensing laws in Nigeria. As a result of his expertise, in the operation to win the Opl 245 licence, Eni had entrusted him with the role of ‘project leader’ who, according to internal directives, recalled in the hearing by Armanna, is ‘the one on whom all communications are centralised’. As Armanna stated: “All communications came to me, and my responsibility is that all the members of the group and all the parties involved in the project were informed’. According to Armanna’s reconstruction, Eni was in dire need of the Opl 245 licence given the state of financial crisis in which its Nigerian subsidiary found itself and the quality of the field.

In May 2013, Armanna recounted, “Eni accused me of stealing 380,000 euros ” and for this he was dismissed from the company, with a 400,000 euro severance package. On 30 July 2014, two months before receiving the notification “avviso di garanzia” (the judicial document that informs a person that he is under investigation, ed.), he voluntarily presented himself at the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Milan to make a spontaneous statement in which, as summarised by the Milan judges, he states that the commission for Obi was actually a kickback of money to the Italians and that all the executives of Eni were aware that part of the sum paid would have gone ’for the benefit of the political sponsors of the ‘operation’. And yet, the court recalls, after CEO Claudio Descalzi’s public statements, in which he said he denied the allegations, Armanna gave other interviews in which he ‘specifies that ENI executives had never been certain that a portion of ENI’s money would benefit Nigerian political sponsors’. The destination of the money to politicians, in fact, ‘was not a certainty but a hypothesis and a suspicion'”.

What was initially a hypothesis became a certainty for Armanna as the criminal proceedings unfolded. According to the court, the former employee seems to want to blackmail Eni either to get back into the company or to win some collateral work at Opl 245.

The court highlighted a conflict with his former superior Roberto Casula and consequently with Ciro Antonio Pagano, number one of Eni’s Nigerian subsidiary, both co-defendants and fully acquitted in the first instance. The affair postdates the Opl 245 negotiations: having left Eni, Armanna was working as a consultant for a company interested in acquiring secondary oil blocks which had to be divested by Eni. Armanna knew, however, that as long as Casula was with Eni, another company, Oando, would be preferred in the competitive tenders.

According to the reading of the court, “the only serious evidence against the defendant does not derive from his generic and unreliable statements, but rather from his involvement – paid privately with over a million dollars – in the phase following the payment of the price by the oil companies”. Two transfers were made in May 2012 (one year before Armanna’s departure from Eni): the first for 200,000 dollars, the second for one million dollars.

The payments were made by another former Nigerian minister, Christopher Bayo Ojo: in 2006, as Minister of Justice, Ojo had reinstated the Opl 245 oil licence to Malabu after it had been removed by President Obasanjo. As a lawyer, however, Ojo also provided legal advice to Dan Etete in the negotations to sell Opl 245.

Dan Etete paid Bayo Ojo over ten million dollars for his legal services. The money transferred to the lawyer came from the payment that Malabu made in favour of Rocky Top Resources, an Etete-associated company (it was his signature that was registered as the authorised signature at the bank where Rocky Top had a current account). Of these ten million dollars, 1.2 million dollars were transferred to Vincenzo Armanna. Part of the money, some 200 thousand dollars, was said to be an inheritance from his father, Giuseppe Armanna, who had recently died. The inheritence is said to have come for real estate owned by Giuseppe Armanna in Kenya and from his business interests with an old university friend, Alberto Soprani. The additional million dollars, however, was said by Armanna to be the proceeds of an investment made by Armanna together with the same former minister Bayo Ojo in the sale of gold from the Niger Delta – an ‘improbable’ story, according to the Milan judges, that appears to have been an attempt to justify a false motive. To cover what, however, is not clear.

More on Aleph


Vincenzo Armanna's examination

The transcript of Vincenzo Armanna's deposition in court on July 17, 2019


Vincenzo Armanna's examination

The transcript of Vincenzo Armanna's deposition in court on July 22, 2019


Vincenzo Armanna's examination

The transcript of Vincenzo Armanna's deposition in court on July 23, 2019


Vincenzo Armanna's examination

The transcript of Vincenzo Armanna's deposition in court on July 24, 2019


Annexes to prosecutors’ final plea

Legal mandate by Malabu Oil and Gas to former Attorney General Christopher Bayo Ojo ay page 470; Email exchange between Vincenzo Armanna and Bayo Ojo at page 550

Stories of Vincenzo Armanna

9 September 2021
A polluted verdict? Allegations of judicial malpractice and the Milan trial
In March 2021, after a 3-year trial, the Milan Court of First Instance acquitted Shell, Eni and 11 other defendants of international corruption in the acquisition of the OPL 245 oil field in Nigeria.   The judges held that… Read More
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