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UPDATE 2-Eni files request to pay 11.8 mln euros to settle Congo Republic oil probe

(Recasts with Eni statement, quotes)

MILAN, March 18 (Reuters) - Italian energy group Eni said on Thursday it had filed a request with prosecutors in Milan to pay 11.8 million euros ($14 million) to settle an investigation into oil permits in Congo Republic.

“Eni is pleased to note that the allegations of international corruption ceased to exist. Following the reduction of the alleged offence ... Eni adhered to the hypothesis of agreed sanctions,” the company said in a statement.

Reuters reported the settlement earlier on Thursday, adding that sources familiar with the matter said that Eni’s move came after prosecutors agreed to downgrade the allegations from international bribery to undue inducement.

“Eni wishes to note that the deal does not represent an admission of guilt by the company in relation to the alleged offence but an initiative aimed at avoiding the continuation of the judicial process,” it added.

Settling a criminal case in Italy does not involve any admission of guilt or responsibility.

The group also said that “the verdict also confirms the resilience of the company’s anti-bribery control systems.”

Prosecutors have agreed to a deal that would involve the payment of 800,000 euros as an “agreed penalty” and the seizure of a further 11 million euros as profit from the alleged offence in order to close the case, the sources said.

The request was filed on March 15, the sources said, adding that a judge is expected to approve the settlement in a March 25 hearing.

The probe, launched in 2017, revolves around allegations that to win renewal of oil licences in Congo Republic, Eni agreed to sell stakes in the licences to a company whose shareholders included public officials in the African nation.

Eni has said it had no role in the allocation of licences or in the Congo Republic government’s choice of local partner.

On Wednesday, a Milan court acquitted Eni and Shell in the oil industry’s biggest corruption case revolving around the $1.3 billion acquisition of a Nigerian oilfield a decade ago. ($1 = 0.8390 euros) (Reporting by Emilio Parodi; Additional reporting by Stephen Jewkes; Editing by Susan Fenton, David Clarke and Paul Simao)

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