In its latest legal moves, the Nigerian government has raised the stakes in the legal battles over the highly prospective OPL 245 oil block. The Africa Report delves into the background of what could be one of the most important corporate fraud cases in Africa’s history.
Who is Fabio de Pasquale, prosecutor in the OPL 245 case?
The OPL 245 case is not the first time that Fabio de Pasquale, the energetic Milan-based prosecutor, is taking on the Italian state-owned oil company Eni and its top officials.
In the early 1990s, De Pasquale was one of a squad of prosecutors leading the ‘mani pulite’ (clean hands) campaign targeting political corruption in Italy.
De Pasquale also took on Eni directly for bribing political parties. That investigation led to the conviction of Bettino Craxi, seen as a maestro of Italian politics, on 7 November 1994.
In July 1993, Gabriele Cagliari, then Eni chief executive, was facing corruption charges. He committed suicide in jail, triggering a backlash from the political establishment.
Justice minister Filippo Mancuso launched an investigation in 1995 against De Pasquale for abuse of power in a bid to rein in the judiciary after several high-profile arrests. De Pasquale was cleared of all charges after a few months.
De Pasquale led the case that convicted veteran prime minister Silvio Berlusconi of tax fraud in 2012. That conviction was De Pasquale’s most celebrated case in recent years. Now his focus, after promotion to procuratore aggiunto, is on international financial crimes, for which he leads a team of nine financial prosecutors. He is also part of the Norwegian-funded Corruption Hunters Network.