ENI’s attack on ReCommon regarding its participation in tonight’s programme Rai Report

Incredible missive from Eni’s legal department director: ReCommon and Antonio Tricarico cannot be worthy an interview with the RAI public television service. ReCommon considers this act a serious attack on the freedom of press by the most important Italian multinational and asks for the solidarity of the media and civil society.

Last Friday evening ReCommon received for information from the lawyer Stefano Speroni, director of the legal department of Eni, an email, addressed to the television programme RAI Report and its director Sigfrido Ranucci, the text of which we publish below.

Mr. Speroni does not understand why RAI Report and the public broadcasting service RAI allow themselves to interview Antonio Tricarico of ReCommon, thus questioning his legitimacy, competence and authority.

ReCommon considers unqualified the tone and the substance of the communication sent by the director of Eni’s legal department to be unjustified and denounces the intimidation with defamatory intent directed against ReCommon and its representative.

Dear Sirs,

from the previews available this morning, we have taken note that on Monday, December 10, 2021 you intend to air your report on the well-known subject of the July 28, 2014 video, which has already been the subject of numerous exchanges of correspondence between Eni, your editorial staff and Dr. Ranucci personally.

In view of this transmission, we reiterate that full and complete information on the position expressed by Eni will be given, together with clear information to the viewer on the availability of all the relevant documentation available on Eni’s website https://eni.com/it-IT/media/caso-opl245-processo-nigeria.html and, in particular, https://eni.com/it-IT/media/caso-opl245-processo-nigeria/nostre-risposte-report.html.

In relation to the portion of the intervention of Antonio Tricarico, who is reading us in copy together with his lawyer, (as already known in advance on your social network accounts and that of Re:Common), we invite you to report also the following position of Eni:

  • Re:Common and Dr. Tricarico personally are the individuals who submitted the complaints to the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Milan and who initiated the investigations into the OPL 245 affair, which ended with the acquittal of Eni and its managers because the fact does not exist, a finding that has been definitively verified;
  • The Court of Milan rejected Re-Common’s request to join as a civil party in the OPL 245 trial, finding no standing;
  • The comments exchanged by Piero Amara and Andrea Peruzy are made by persons who are totally and absolutely third parties with respect to Eni, without any formal or substantial title to use the company’s name. Said comments are reported in the context of a business attempt to damage Eni together with Vincenzo Armanna for the pursuit of the personal economic interests of Amara, Armanna, Peruzy (and other persons) who attended said meeting;
  • The purpose of personal gain of all intervenors is also directly confirmed in the interrogation by Dr. Andrea Peruzy with investigating authorities on November 8, 2019 regarding the participation in this meeting (this interrogation being public).

Therefore, we cannot understand the relevance (beyond the legitimacy, competence or authoritativeness of the interlocutor that Report intends to assign to Antonio Tricarico to the point of electing him as the interlocutor of a public service) of the comments with respect to Eni’s reputation, if not to damage it without legitimate reason.

Eni therefore reserves the right to take action in any forum to protect its reputation should there be further evidence of this after viewing or in the event that its arguments and documents are not fully presented.

Sincerely yours.

Lawyer Stefano Speroni

Posted by iPhone

Eni SpA
Piazzale Enrico Mattei, 1
00144 Rome – Italy”.

This is not the first time that Attorney Speroni has addressed ReCommon and its attorneys in such unacceptable tones.

Since the last missive was directly and publicly addressed to RAI, ReCommon and its representative reserve the right to act in the competent venues against such defamatory conduct.

The top management of a company like Eni, which professes to be responsible and respectful of freedom of speech and constitutional principles, should immediately open an internal investigation into the incident and take appropriate action against the director of the legal department. On the basis of the steps that the company will take in this regard, since Mr. Speroni wrote the letter not on a personal level but clearly on behalf of the company, ReCommon and its representative reserve the right to take action in the appropriate venues against the company as well.

As regards Eni’s position as expressed in the request addressed to RAI, we underline that:

1. Eni and its managers were fully acquitted last March by the Court of Milan in the first instance only. Therefore, it is wrong to state that the absence of the fact has been “definitively verified”, since the public prosecution and Nigeria, as a civil party, have filed a notice of appeal, which will take place during 2022. Moreover, it is not excluded that the judgment of appeal may in turn be appealed, on grounds of legitimacy, before the Supreme Court of Cassation. The absence of the contested fact was verified definitively only as regards the actions of the two intermediaries in the Opl245 affair, who were definitively acquitted in the context of an abbreviated procedure. It is strange that the head of the legal department of one of the most important Italian multinationals, which is also a state-owned company, continues to make profoundly erroneous statements, which also appear to be disrespectful of the Court of Appeal of Milan and of the higher courts that may eventually be called upon to decide on the same facts. We also believe that the company’s top management should open an internal investigation into this behaviour and take appropriate measures to protect the reputation of ENI, precisely because it was acquitted in the first instance, as were its managers.

2. ReCommon’s request to be recognized as a civil party to the Milan proceedings, as the complainant from which the Opl245 investigation started, was rejected by the Tribunal not because of a generic lack of standing of the association. The Tribunal found that ReCommon did not have a statutory purpose exclusively focused on fighting corruption. ReCommon considers it serious that in Italy, except in very rare cases, no civil society organization has so far been recognized as a civil party in criminal trials on economic and financial crimes by the Italian courts, and in particular in no case concerning the crime of international corruption.
It is difficult on this basis to expect citizens and civil society organizations to actively contribute to the fight against corruption, an endemic phenomenon in our country as certified for years by the European Union, if Italian courts adopt such a restrictive approach to the legitimization of civil parties in such crimes, moreover in violation of the spirit and the letter of the UN Convention Against Corruption to which Italy is a signatory and a party.
In any event, ReCommon believes that it was its right to request to be a civil party in the Milan trial and defends this choice in the face of disparaging accusations by Eni’s Director of Legal Affairs.

3. ReCommon takes note of the fact that lawyer Speroni as director of Eni’s legal department accuses Dr. Andrea Peruzy, in 2014 secretary general of the Italiani Europei Foundation whose president is the Hon. Massimo D’Alema, believing that all the participants in the meeting covered by the Report broadcast (Piero Amara, former external lawyer of Eni managers, Vincenzo Armanna, former Eni employee, and Paolo Quinto, then head secretary of the Hon. Anna Finocchiaro) acted pursuing purposes of personal gain, possibly to the detriment of Eni.

4. ReCommon confirms that, precisely for the reasons set out by Eni to the RAI, in the video in question there are references to matters which, apart from the criminal profile, certainly pose a reputational problem for the operation of the company, since in the video Andrea Peruzy defines Piero Amara, then an important lawyer for Eni’s managers, as a “antenna” inside the company for the benefit of Peruzy himself, Armanna and Quinto regarding a business deal of Eni in Nigeria – defined during the meeting as being worth four billion dollars – which the associates of the meeting would have pursued from outside the company for personal gain. It should be noted that the relationship between some managers of Eni, also in top positions in the company, and Mr. Amara was interrupted only some years after the incident. This makes it legitimate to wonder how solid the internal control mechanism was to prevent such interference by external parties in the company’s affairs and this issue poses an undoubted reputational risk for the company.

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