Nigeria Takes Legal Action Against JP Morgan for $1.7 Billion For Oil Deal

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Nigeria filed a lawsuit against US bank JP Morgan Chase on Wednesday. The West African country claims over $1.7 billion for its role in a conflict on an oilfield deal in 2011. 

The suit filed in the English court involves the energy giants Shell and Eni buying the Nigerian offshore OPL 245 oilfield. It is at the peak of legal action in progress in Italy. 

Last March, a jury in Milan absolved the companies and executives, who all rejected the allegations of misconduct and bribery. Prosecutors have appealed the verdict. 

Nigeria accuses JP Morgan was “grossly negligent” in its judgment to shift funds paid by the energy giants into an escrow account to a company influenced by Dan Etete, the country’s former oil minister, in place of inside the government repository, according to the court documents regarding the London case. 

The hearing started with details of the claim by Roger Masefield, Nigeria’s representative. JP Morgan will hand over its defense early next week. The hearing will conclude on April 7, and a verdict will probably take a few months. 

Masefield stated in court that Nigeria’s lawsuit reposed on proving two fundamental points: there was a rip-off, and JP Morgan was acquainted with the threat of a rip-off. He added that JP Morgan had failed to fulfill its duties. 

“The evidence of fraud is little short of overwhelming,” said Masefield in the court. “Under its Quincecare duty, the bank was entitled to refuse to pay for as long as it had reasonable grounds for believing its customers were being frauded.” 

Quincecare is a legal standard where the bank should not pay out if it thinks its client will be ripped off by making the payment. 

The London offices of JP Morgan handle business for Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Nigeria. 

It was “confident that it acted appropriately in making these payments,” and the bank would “robustly defend against this claim,” said the bank’s spokesman in a statement. 

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