Italian oil major Eni has filed a fraud complaint against its former head of trading and operations, Alessandro Des Dorides, over a suspect Iraqi crude oil shipment. There were concerns that the failed delivery might have contained some undeclared Iranian crude, which, if known about, would have been subject to US sanctions.
Eni accused Des Dorides in its filing to the Milan prosecutor’s office of misleading all parties to the deal and of hiding the role of small Italian oil trading firm Napag.
Two other senior employees were either demoted or suspended as a result of the failed shipment, Reuters reported, citing unnamed sources familiar with the matter.
Eni said it had suspended dealings with Napag in February as part of a separate investigation by Milan prosecutors into a suspected obstruction of justice by members of Eni’s former legal team.
Eni said it fired Des Dorides at the end of May after he had been in his job about six months. This had been because of an unrelated petrochemical deal with Napag in 2018. Eni and other parties either declined to comment or were unobtainable. Eni said it did not comment on ongoing investigations and internal due processes.
The suspect crude arrived aboard crude oil tanker White Moon (IMO 9588158) at the end of May for offloading at the Milazzo refinery in Sicily, which is part-owned by Eni. Eni is a regular buyer of Iraqi crude, was solely responsible for the cargo.
However, Eni said it rejected the delivery because it did not match the Iraqi Basra Light crude it expected from the counterparty, the Dubai-based trading arm of Nigerian firm Oando.
After sitting offshore for three weeks the White Moon sailed back to the Gulf.
Following the rejection of the White Moon shipment the head of the Italian Senate Industry Committee wrote to Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi to clarify the origin of an oil cargo labelled as coming from Iraq. Eni said it bought the crude from Nigerian firm Oando, who in turn bought the oil from the London branch of Italy’s Napag.
Oando said it took back the cargo from Eni but declined to comment further on the origins of the cargo as it was “in the middle of a resolution” over the rejected oil. Oando said the terms of the deal were “normal for the trading industry.”
The offer was reported to have been at a significant discount to typical Iraqi trades, was paid for in euros rather than the more normal US dollars, and was from a firm that was new to the region.
Eni said that the mismatch in the crude’s chemical composition “coupled with other red flags, led to the decision to terminate the transaction.”
The oil loaded onto the White Moon apparently came via two ship-to-ship transfers. The crude bought from Oando was loaded onto the White Moon from the New Prosperity, but that vessel itself had been loaded with oil from another, the Abyss, the sources added, said Reuters, citing unnamed trading sources.
The Abyss’s transponder was switched off between April 24th and May 3rd when it transferred oil to the New Prosperity.
In addition to the termination of Des Dorides, the CFO of Eni trading, Mauro Cavagna, was removed from his post in late June and replaced by head of compliance Francesco Metrangolo, the company said. Cavagna is still employed at Eni.
Citing three unnamed sources, Reuters said that three sources familiar with the matter said that Cavagna’s removal was related to the White Moon and that operations manager, Francesca Delladio, was also suspended in relation to the same matter.
2012-built, Liberia-flagged, 83,824 gt White Moon is owned by Seetip Maritime care of Zodiac Maritime Ltd of London, UK. As of July 18th it was recorded as being entered with UK Club (Area Group E2 – EMEA) on behalf of Spadley Shipping Ltd