November 24, 2017 / 11:04 AM / a year ago

Eni asks for seizure order to be lifted to avoid refinery shutdown

MILAN (Reuters) - Italy’s Eni (ENI.MI) has asked a judge to lift a court order seizing measurement devices that is threatening to shut down its refineries in Italy, a spokesman for the oil major said.

FILE PHOTO: Eni's logo is seen in front of its headquarters in San Donato Milanese, near Milan, Italy, April 27, 2016. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini/File Photo

Measurement devices at Eni’s refineries and oil-product storage facilities across Italy were seized by tax police earlier this week as part of a tax evasion probe.

“We presented a request on Thursday ... We are waiting for a reply,” an Eni spokesman said in an emailed comment on the effort to have the seizure order lifted.

Prosecutors allege the devices were manipulated in such a way that Eni marketed more refining products than were recorded, in a scheme involving tax evasion worth about 10 million euros (£8.9 million).

Eni, which has denied any wrongdoing, said the seizure order could lead to the total shutdown of its refining and fuel supply activities.

“We are talking of 10 million euros which is peanuts compared with the kind of damage deriving from a stop in refinery production, bringing the country to a standstill,” a trading source said.

State-controlled Eni is Italy’s biggest refiner with five wholly-owned refineries and a series of depots across the country to transport and store oil products onshore.

It has one of the country’s largest petrol pump networks but also supplies fuel to other pump distributors.

Reporting by Stephen Jewkes, Additional reporting by Ahmad Ghaddar; Editing by Edmund Blair

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