FG studying UK ruling over oil fraud – Minister

Sam Adeniyi
Sam Adeniyi
Lai Mohammed

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said on Wednesday that the Federal Government lawyers are still studying the judgment of a United Kingdom Commercial Court that ruled out fraud in the Oil Processing Licence 245 transaction between Nigeria and JP Morgan Chase Bank.

According to The PUNCH, he disclosed this while answering questions from State House correspondents at the end of the Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

He noted that the government’s lawyers will study the judgment after which they would decide whether to appeal or not.

The Commercial Court of England and Wales, on Tuesday, ruled on the issue in Case No CL-2017-000730 as contained in its 137-paged judgement.

According to the ruling, the Federal Government lost its $1.7bn claims against banking giant, JPMorgan Chase, over the transfer of proceeds from the sale of OPL 245 in 2011.

The government also suffered a similar fate in March 2021, when its application before a Milan court failed.

The application was for an order compelling ENI and Royal Dutch Shell to pay $1.092bn as an immediate advance payment for damages it was claiming, in one of the oil industry’s biggest-ever corruption cases.

In his reaction to a question on the issue, the minister said: “I also read the judgment on Malabu oil. I think, strangely enough, the judge said we were not able to establish that we lost $1.7bn. But I also read further that the lawyer said that they are studying the judgment and they will take the appropriate step on whether to appeal or not.”

Meanwhile, a former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke (SAN), on Wednesday advised the Federal Government to refrain from wasting money on legal fees on the matter.

Expressing delight at the court’s verdict in a press statement, Adoke said the Federal Government made numerous attempts to present the transaction as a case of corruption in order to nail him.

He said the intention was to justify what he described as spurious criminal proceedings instituted against him in Nigeria.

“I have been unjustly defamed locally and internationally, and my livelihood has been taken from me; however, I am grateful to friends, colleagues and well-wishers who have stood by me throughout this challenging and depressing period.

“Now that it is clear to all discerning minds that no fraud was perpetrated in the OPL 245 resolution agreement, the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation should be advised to refrain from wasting Nigeria’s hard-earned foreign exchange by way of legal fees on local and foreign counsel in a bid to prove the existence of a fraud that never was,” he said.


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