An Italian appeal court on Thursday acquitted Emeka Obi, a Nigerian and Gianluca Di Nardo, an Italian, who had been convicted for their role in the controversial Malabu oil scam.
The court ruling was decided behind closed doors but read out to reporters afterwards, according to Reuters.
The three judges who heard the appeal of the case, which also involved Shell and Eni, quashed the convictions and said there was no case to answer.
The prosecution asked for the sentences to be overturned after a court in March acquitted the two energy groups in the case involving the acquisition of a Nigerian oilfield for about $1.3 billion.
In 2018, the two men were accused of collecting kickbacks and sentenced to four years in prison in a bribery scandal linked to the sale of oil prospecting license (OPL) 245 in 2011.
However, they had not started serving their jail sentences.
Roberto Pisano, Obi’s lawyer, described the original conviction as “an unjust sentence by the court of the first instance conditioned by a macroscopic violation of the law.”
The three judges also lifted orders seizing assets worth $98.4 million from Obi and more than 21 million Swiss francs ($23 million) from Di Nardo.
The oil deal dates back to 2011 it was alleged that about $1.1 billion was siphoned off to politicians and middlemen.