"I make Malala's words my own: 'I tell my story not because it is unique but because it is not" and I hope my story can be served as an example, motivation and inspiration to other whistleblowers who are being silenced and their careers and reputations buried around the world by companies that don’t respect their codes of ethics, by employees and executives who steal corporate coffers and the board that pretends nothing happens"
In commemoration of the 16th anniversary of the dismissal of a "whistleblower", the Italian oil giant has received a "gift": a "Criminal Complaint" against all the members of the Board of Directors of Eni, that was filed in Brazil's Criminal Court.
Soon, the Chairman, the CEO and the rest of Directors will be "defendants" for "Crimes against Honor" of this whistleblower because of the practice of "slander", "libel" and "defamation".
Get to know more about this Criminal Complaint in this LINK and this story browsing this blog.
Douglas Linares Flinto, former executive of the Brazilian subsidiary of Eni, and founder & CEO of the Brazilian Business Ethics Institute, by his undersigned attorney, through this correspondence, set out the following for the purpose of making a request to Eni SpA and, if not met, inform all members of the Board of the company about the measures that will be taken in Brazil on account of the incurrence of "Crimes against Honor".
However, it is necessary to review the history and the reasons that motivated the original acts, duly substantiated by extensive documentation, including witness testimony, which confirms that Mr. Flinto has identified unlawful acts practiced by employees of Agip Brazil and that Mr. Flinto acted in accordance with what determines the Code of Ethics of Eni and encourages all its employees to protect the name, image, reputation and equity of company.
In this way, in 2001, in the exercise of his functions at Agip Brazil, Mr. Flinto, after learning about the practice of internal fraud and corruption, and motivated by the words and spirit of the Code of Ethics of Eni, provided the complaint to the internal channels of the Brazilian subsidiary of Eni, about a scheme that diverted millions of dollars from the company's coffers in Brazil.
Fraud and corruption in the Brazilian subsidiary of Eni
The illegal acts, practiced by the employees of Agip Brazil and that were in total non-compliance with Code of Ethics of Eni, are indisputable facts, since the Public Ministry of the State of Mato Grosso, through the 12th Criminal Prosecutor of Cuiabá, reported to the Criminal Judge all the illegal acts. This report described the crimes committed by Agip Brazil’s employees in collusion with owners of gas stations and fuel carriers. These crimes involved fraud, corruption and tax evasion (Doc. 01).
Mr. Flinto is a whistleblower
It is also indisputable the fact that Mr. Flinto is a "whistleblower". It was Mr. Flinto who complied with the determinations of Eni’s Code of Ethics and provided the complaint to the internal channels of Brazil. In "legal documents of public faith", Mr. Aldo Locatelli (Doc. 02), president of SindPetroleo - Union of Gas Stations of Brazil and Mr. Mateus de Campos Martins (Doc. 03), Advisor of Sales of Agip Brazil, confirmed that Mr. Flinto was the one who provided the complaints about the unlawful acts committed in Agip Brazil. Mr. Flinto's behavior was only and exclusively because that was the determination of the Code of Ethics of Eni.
Dismissal in "reprisal"
However, contrary to all expectations as to the consequences of his acts in favor of Eni, as well as of the principles and values present in Eni's Code of Ethics, a few weeks after reporting to the internal channels of Agip Brazil, Mr. Flinto was fired.
1st version of Eni on the dismissal of Mr. Flinto
Because he believed he had suffered the worst reprisal an employee could ever suffer, and again, following the determinations of Eni's Code of Ethics, Mr. Flinto invoked Agip's "Ethics Commission" in Brazil. Days later, the CEO of the Brazilian operation sent a response from his own e-mail to Mr. Flinto (Doc. 04) saying that:
“I received your email of February 1st 2002 and we appreciate your congratulations and observations about the changes we promoted at the Cuiabá Regional.
We find strange, however, your collocations that your dismissal from the company had occurred due to a “breach of trust”. That does not correspond to the reality of the facts. Your dismissal resulted from the administrative and organizational restructuring of the Cuiabá Regional. Being so that your contract was rescinded normally, with no just cause, having Agip even spontaneously maintained benefits after your dismissal, as, for instance, medical assistance extended to you and your dependents.
We find unnecessary your references to Eni’s Code of Ethics, given that such have always been and always will be the master line of all of our actions”.
This was the first version on the dismissal of Mr. Flinto.
What does the Brazilian Labor Court say?
It is important to note that the Brazilian Labor Court affirmed that there was a Code of Ethics, confirmed the occurrence of internal fraud and acts of corruption at Agip Brazil and acknowledged that Mr. Flinto lodged complaints against the internal channels of Eni's Brazilian operation (Doc. 05).
2st version of Eni on the dismissal of Mr. Flinto
In 2010, Eni filed a lawsuit in the Civil Court of Rome against Mr. Flinto and against the Brazilian Business Ethics Institute, demanding a compensation of 15 million Euros. In inicial petition (Doc. 06) Eni says:
“We also point out that from the insights made by Eni, it doesn’t appear that any retaliation was committed, nor a violation of the Law and, much less, the principles of Eni’s Code of Ethics, at the expense of the employee on the part of the former subsidiary Agip Brazil and, especially, on the part of Eni.
On the other hand, it is important to emphasize that Douglas Flinto’s dismissal had full justification in his reticent and not collaborative conduct taken by the employee during the company’s undercover investigations that aimed to reveal potential harmful acts to the company itself, ceasing the trusting relationship”.
This was the second version of Mr. Flinto's dismissal without Eni having submitted one single proof on its charges.
Parallel State: The first investigation against Eni
In March 2016, the story of Mr. Flinto, lived with Eni, was published in the investigative book "Eni: The Parallel State" (Doc. 07) written by journalists Andrea Greco and Giuseppe Oddo. Mr. Greco wrote (Doc. 08) to Mr Flinto that: “The authors decided to include your story because, after reading most of the documents you sent and talking with their sources, they convinced themselves that the story had roots, and that was right and interesting to include it in the context of “Stato parallelo”.
The 3rd version on the dismissal of Mr. Flinto
In April 2017, Mr. Mauro Meggiolaro, as "Critical Shareholder" of Eni (shareholder Fondazione Finanza Etica - Gruppo Banca Etica) took the case of Mr. Flinto to the Eni Shareholder's Meeting held on the 13th of April 2017. Under Italian law, Mr. Meggiolaro wrote 10 (ten) questions about the history of Mr. Flinto (Doc. 09). These questions would have to be answered by the Board of Eni. However, the members of the Board of Directors of the company did not answer to the questions that were individually formulated to them and preferred to respond in a long text (Doc. 10). In this text, once again Eni "invented" a new version on Mr. Flinto's dismissal:
"The former employee was fired together with other actors of unlawful behavior, by reticence, for having violated the obligation of confidentiality and by trying to use instrumentally Eni's Code of Ethics to gain personal advantages of the company".
This was the third version of Mr. Flinto's dismissal without Eni having submitted one single proof on its charges.
With each new version the damage to Mr. Flinto is greater
It is easy to see that in 16 years Eni presented three different versions on Mr. Flinto's dismissal, distorting, at each new version, the facts that originally motivated the complaints lodged by Mr. Flinto. It is also anincontrovertible fact that one version was more false and liar, more harmful and damaging than the other.
In the 1st Version, the company denies the "complaints" made by Mr. Flinto and denies the "retaliation" practiced by Agip Brazil, claiming that it is only a simple and ordinary "administrative and organizational restructuring". In the 2nd Version, Mr. Flinto "did not collaborate" and had a "reticent stance" when Eni carried out "secret investigations" in Brazil. And, surprisingly, in the 3rd Version, he says that Mr. Flinto was criminally involved in the scheme of internal fraud and corruption (which he himself denounced), and that his dismissal occurred along with the other actors of "illegal behavior". In addition, he accused Mr. Flinto of "reticence", of not having preserved "confidentiality" and of being an "opportunistic" person because he had used Eni's Code of Ethics (which he himself fulfilled in full) to build an untrue history with the intention of obtaining financial advantages of Eni.
The 3 versions of Eni try to hide the truth
It is clear that Eni tries to hide the truth from the facts by presenting three different versions on Mr Flinto's dismissal.
Eni's cunning returns against the company itself, as it is more than evident that Eni doesn’t want to admit the truth: that Mr. Flinto was dismissed in "reprisal" after denouncing a million-dollar scheme of corruption in Agip Brazil.
In 16 years Eni does not admit its mistakes
It is to be noted that in all those years Eni doesn’t admit its mistakes in relation to Mr. Flinto. It is undisputed that he: (a) simply complied with the determinations of Eni’s Code of Ethics; (b) that Mr. Flinto was the "whistleblower" who stripped away the dark facts that were happening in the innards of Agip Brazil; (c) that Mr. Flinto denounced a millionaire fraud and corruption scheme at Eni's Brazilian subsidiary, providing the company with the necessary measures to correct such non-conformities with the Code of Ethics and to stop the millionaire deviations in the coffers of Agip Brazil; (d), nor did it finally admit that Mr. Flinto was dismissed in "reprisal" when he should have been protected by the instruments present in Eni's Code of Ethics.
Questions and answers before the Shareholders’ Meeting 2017
Furthermore, on April 13, 2017, Eni began to hurt Mr. Flinto's honor more deeply by presenting a completely fanciful and lying, unfounded and unjust version, cruel and cowardly, and harmful and damaging on the dismissal of Mr. Flinto. Even worse, Eni, when it published the Questions and answers before the Shareholders' Meeting 2017 on its corporate website, on the page dedicated to the company's shareholders and investors, publicly exposes Mr. Flinto, giving him false and liars accusations, with negative reflexes, not only in Italy and Brazil, but in the whole world.
Eni could already be considered responsible for interrupting Mr. Flinto's professional career, since after his dismissal in Brazil (2001), Mr. Flinto was vetoed in the Brazilian labor market and never again was able to get a new executive position. Without a job, for years, he can no longer pay monthly the amounts owed to INSS (Instituto Nacional de Seguridade Social). Today, Mr. Flinto is a man almost entering the third age and no longer has the legal right of the financial values paid by the Brazilian government as "retirement”.
Brazilian Business Ethics Institute
It is also important to note that the third version presented by Eni and published by the company on its corporate website, with flagrantly slanderous and defamatory content, has immensely detrimental potential to the Brazilian Business Ethics Institute, an institution that Mr. Flinto founded in 2003 and which , In all these years, has been promoting the "best practices" of Ethics both in business and especially in the student environment.
How can the founder and CEO of an institution that fosters Business Ethics, which was conceived and created precisely because of the facts he experienced in the case of Eni, be accused of having participated in the crimes he himself denounced? How would it be possible for Mr. Flinto to be an opportunistic person, whose objective is to obtain personal financial advantages, using the Code of Ethics if this was this document that motivated him to denounce the irregularities that he himself identified? Which companies would be comfortable associating their brands with the institution led by Mr. Flinto? To make these accusations we observe that there is no sense of logic, no foundation and no sense at all, if we carefully analyze the facts ascertained and illustrated in the rich documentation already mentioned and made available for consultation.
In fact, Mr. Flinto, in all these years, has been tirelessly and incessantly pursuing, rescuing and restoring his name, his honor, and his reputation that are being denigrated by Eni to this day.
Wounds and Sequels
Eni's attitudes over the past 16 years are causing wounds to Mr. Flinto and will take a long time to heal, leaving sequels and harmful consequences for life. Eni, in addition to not recognizing its mistake, acts in a very unorthodox way, slandering and defaming Mr. Flinto. The reflections of the acts committed by Eni against Mr. Flinto may well be illustrated by two Brazilian jurists:
“The dishonor, the bad fame, pursue someone like an enormous stain, an irreversible stain. The tranquility of their conscience, the inner health of their character, does not count in the always prejudicial judgment of the surrounding world. The stain of injury and defamation is what stands out most prominently before all in a judgment of obliquity and whispers that never ends”;
“A wounded person by dishonor, their reputation depreciated, mistaken for the null character, the moral indigents, even the triumphant ones, also rises, but, with more difficulty. While there remain in the collective memory those doubts sown by offense, will always be diminished, as if a piece was missing, some portion of an inseparable value of their personality, their honor”.
For all of the above reasons, Mr. Flinto uses the present correspondence so Eni makes a PUBLIC RETRACTION, within a period of 15 (fifteen) days, counted from the receipt of this correspondence. This retraction should be made on the company's corporate website and also on the major news portals in both Italy and Brazil to undo slanderous and defamatory behavior against Mr. Flinto.
However, if Eni SpA do not do the mentioned Public Retraction, we inform that a "Criminal Complaint" will be made in Brazil against each of the people who are members of the Board of Directors of the company due to the practice of crimes against the honor of Mr. Flinto.
Eni told “three different versions” about my dismissal. Each one more damaging and harmful than the other. In the first version, the company denies the “retaliation" after my complaint. In the second version, I did not colaborated with the confidential investigations. And in the third version, I am a “thief” and “opportunistic”.
1ª Version: CEO of Eni’s Brazilian operation (2002)
“I received your email of February 1st 2002 and we appreciate your congratulations and observations about the changes we promoted at the Cuiabá Regional. We find strange, however, your collocations that your dismissal from the company had occurred due to a “breach of trust”. That does not correspond to the reality of the facts. Your dismissal resulted from the administrative and organizational restructuring of the Cuiabá Regional. Being so that your contract was rescinded normally, with no just cause, having Agip even spontaneously maintained benefits after your dismissal, as, for instance, medical assistance extended to you and your dependents. We find unnecessary your references to Eni’s Code of Ethics, given that such have always been and always will be the master line of all of our actions”.
2ª Version: Lawsuit against me in Italy (2010)
“To make it easier the understanding of the eminent magistrate, I anticipate that, given the communication from Douglas Flinto, without having provided any documentary evidence to justify what was said, proposes an instrumental (functional) reconstruction of the causes that led to his dismissal, in 2001, from Agip Brazil and uses the Code of Ethics for the sole purpose of, repeatedly, defaming and openly discrediting the company. We also point out that from the insights made by Eni, it doesn’t appear that any retaliation was committed, nor a violation of the Law and, much less, the principles of Eni’s Code of Ethics, at the expense of the employee on the part of the former subsidiary Agip Brazil and, especially, on the part of Eni. On the other hand, it is important to emphasize that Douglas Flinto’s dismissal had full justification in his reticent and not collaborative conduct taken by the employee during the company’s undercover investigations that aimed to reveal potential harmful acts to the company itself, ceasing the trusting relationship”
3ª Version: Eni Shareholders’ Meeting (2017)
“The former employee was fired together with other actors of unlawful behavior, by reticence, for having violated the obligation of confidentiality and by trying to use instrumentally the Eni's Code of Ethics to gain personal advantages of the company"
It is evident that Eni, in all these years, doesn’t assume the truth of the facts: that I am a whistleblower; that I fulfilled the Code of Ethics; that I reported a millionaire scheme of fraud and corruption in Brazil and was fired in retaliation. On the other hand, Eni committed a mistake in my case, and it is still committing mistakes and not assuming them, preferring to denigrate even more my name, my honor and my reputation.
My fight against a giant continues!
Note 1 - My motivation: "I make Malala Yousafzai’s words my own: “I tell my story not because it is unique but because it is not”.
Note 2 - My objective: "I hope my story can be served as an example, motivation and inspiration to other whistleblowers who are being silenced and their careers and reputations buried around the world by companies that dont’t respect their codes of ethics, by employees and executives who steal corporate coffers and the board that pretends nothing happens".
I’m a whistleblower of the Italian oil giant! My fight story against Eni will turn 16 years in the month of August 2017. My story was published in the book "Eni: The Parallel State” by journalists Andrea Greco and Giuseppe Oddo. Mr. Greco says that: “the authors decided to include your story because, after reading most of the documents you sent and talked with their sources, they convinced themselves that the story had roots, and that was right and interesting to include it in the context of 'Stato Parallelo'”.
Now, Mr. Mauro Meggiolaro is Eni’s Critical Shareholder (Fondazione Finanza Etica - Gruppo Banca Etica) and took my case to Eni Shareholder's Meeting (April 13, 2017).
An example of Eni's lies about my case is that, in the only answer to my ten questions, Eni says at 2017 Eni’s Shareholder Meeting:
"Contrary on what was said Mr. Flinto, of Eni's in-depth analysis, following the communications received from Mr. Flinto in 2002, as well as represented by the Statutory Auditors in the Report of the Shareholder's Meeting informed in Eni's 2002 Balance Sheer, 'the former employee was dismissed, along with other actors of wrongful acts, for reticence, breach of confidentiality duty and the attempt to instrumentally use the Code of Ethics of Eni to take personal advantage of the company”.
Obviously there is nothing about my case. Eni continues to lie! Eni continues to denigrate my name, my honor, my image and my reputation!
I make Malala Yousafzai’s words my own: “I tell my story not because it is unique but because it is not” and I hope my story can be served as an example, motivation and inspiration to other whistleblowers who are being silenced and their careers and reputations buried around the world by companies that dont’t respect their codes of ethics, by employees and executives who steal corporate coffers and the board that pretends nothing happens.
The Ikebiri community, from Bayelsa state, Nigeria, have launched an unprecedented legal case against the Italian oil giant Eni today seeking clean-up of, and compensation for damages from, an oil spill which has affected their community in the Niger Delta.
Supported by Friends of the Earth Europe and Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, the Ikebiri community are calling for adequate compensation and clean-up of an oil spill dating back to 2010, which has yet to be addressed. The Italian oil giant ENI, which operates in Nigeria through its subsidiary Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC), is responsible for the spill, caused by equipment failure.
If you want a reliable indication of a company’s culture, just look at how the company treats employee concerns and whistleblowers. Recent events have highlighted serious failures on the part of major companies to address employee concerns and treat whistleblowers with some degree of respect.
Barclay Bank’s CEO was disciplined and suffered financial penalties for his improper attempts to identify a whistleblower who sent an anonymous complaint to the Barclay’s Board.
Wells Fargo is alleged to have fired several managers and employees after they raised specific concerns about the sales incentive program.
You have to ask yourself – what the heck are these companies doing?
Given today’s enforcement environment and focus on protecting whistleblowers and employees who raise concerns, it is surprising to see companies retaliating against whistleblowers and employees. In general, we have seen little progress in corporate handling of employee concerns and in particular non-retaliation against whistleblowers. Offending companies deserve every penny of punishment and reputational damage from retaliating against employees.
In the Barclay’s case, the CEO enlisted the bank’s security office to identify the anonymous whistleblower who sent two letters to Barclay’s board alleging prior misconduct by a close colleague of the CEO who had worked with the CEO at his former bank. The CEO explained in his subsequent apology:
In my desire to protect our colleague, however, I got too personally involved in this matter. My hope was that if we found out who was sending these letters we could try and get them to stop the harassment of a person who did not deserve that treatment. Nevertheless, I realise that I should simply have the compliance function handle this matter, as they were doing. This was a mistake on my part and I apologise for it.
The challenge for companies like Barclays and Wells Fargo is how to start rebuilding a culture of trust where employees feel comfortable raising concerns without fear of retaliation. Without a real commitment to encouraging employee concerns, most employees are suspicious and reluctant to raise concerns. It is a difficult to overcome employee reluctance.
The challenge for companies like Barclays and Wells Fargo is even more daunting when employees who raised concerns are terminated or investigated by the CEO.
In the case of Wells Fargo, the Department of Labor is investigating the company for whistleblower violations of Dodd-Frank and Sarbanes-Oxley. In one case, a Wells Fargo manager was fired within 20 days of raising a complaint. The reason for the firing cited by the bank was a previously discredited complaint about a manager’s alleged drinking behavior.
A speak up culture requires the commitment of the board, the CEO and senior executive management. Concrete actions have to be taken to establish credibility for an employee communications program.
Barclays has a real credibility program – the offending CEO cannot turn around and tell employees that he wants to hear their concerns. As he demonstrated, he is more interested in the identity of the whistleblower than responding to the substance of the concern.
Similarly, Wells Fargo’s firing of employees who complained about the abusive sales incentive program creates a manifest culture of distrust. To repair such a culture will take time, commitment, and specific actions by leadership, mid-level managers and staff. Until such remediation occurs, Wells Fargo will continue to suffer from a culture where employees are reluctant to raise specific concerns.
Actions always speak louder than words and companies who have suffered serious retaliation issues can only restore trust with meaningful actions and specific commitments.
At the 2017's Shareholders Meeting, held in Rome on April 13th, the Eni's Chairwoman reaffirmed that, in the OPL 245 Case, the Italian oil giant didn't commit any illegal acts nor its executives any criminal acts, going against the words of its "business partner" (Shell) who has already "admitted" paying bribe to Malibu Oil, company of former Energy Minister from Nigeria.
The Board of Directors of Eni think that their Stakeholders are fools!
What does the Eni's Board think about it? And Shell's Board?
This Monday (April, 10), the television program "Report", from the Italian channel of the largest audience, RAI, will present an investigative report involving the Italian oil giant and the billionaire bribe payment in Nigeria (OPL 245 Case).
With the title "An airplane to the CEO", the television program will accuse the former all-powerful of Eni, Mr. Paolo Scaroni, of having sent 50 million dollars to Switzerland using the airplane of an executive from Congo.
It will be worth knowing whether the Board of Directors of Eni will now assume that the company and its executives acted with a complete lack of Ethics & Integrity, harming the words and spirit of the company's Code of Ethics.
On 20th April 2017, Shell, Eni, and several Eni senior executives including the current CEO Claudio Descalzi, will face a preliminary court hearing in Italy where the Milan prosecutor is seeking that they be tried for alleged international corruption offences over the 2011 purchase of the Nigerian OPL 245 oil block. Charges have also reportedly been filed in recent weeks against both companies by Nigerian authorities in relation to the same deal.
Global Witness has published a new briefing for investors. This briefing outlines the recent legal developments in Italy and provides background on the OPL 245 deal which has led to the Italian charges, as well as ongoing investigations in Nigeria and the Netherlands.
As well as raising specific issues for Eni and Shell, this matter highlights the risks to companies and shareholders more broadly from a lack of transparency around company payments to governments and the ultimate beneficial ownership of companies, as well as the need for more robust corporate anti-corruption policies and practices.
The briefing identifies the following key issues for investors:
- potential loss of oil block key to Shell's and Eni's future reserves;
The congolese security service arrested two Italian journalists who were investigating the billionaire bribe payment by the oil giant Eni (OPL 245 case).
When realeasing them, four days later, they took from them their cell phones and computers and, mainly, the interview with an Italian businessman - married to the daughter of the President of the Republic of Congo - who, according to a former executive of Eni (Mr. Vincenzo Armanna) - would have borrowed an airplane to take 50 millions of dollars to Switzerland, money that belonged to Eni's former number one, Mr. Paolo Scaroni who was denounced for the crime of "international corruption" by the Public Ministry of Italy along with the current CEO of the company, Mr. Claudio Descalzi.
Who would be interested in restricting the freedom of expression of these two professionals?
This decision, besides not caring about the situation of this executive before Justice for the accusation of "international corruption", legalizes the payment of bribes by their agents and gives to the Stakeholders a "pernacchia", saying to the market that it is preferred the results achieved to the company rather than conducting the business with Ethics and Integrity. Time will tell if the choice of this CEO was right!
It is no wonder that in my country Italy is known as the Brazil of Europe.
The Italian Criminal Attorney's Office, after following the money trail for more than two years, discovered that the millionaire bribe paid by the Italian oil giant Eni (and Shell), to a convicted criminal for the acquisition of OPL 245 (Nigeria), was carried out through two bank deposits of U$ 400 million at J.P. Morgan in London.