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Nigeria has filed a lawsuit against US bank JP Morgan Chase, claiming over $1.7 billion for their role in the oilfield deal in 2011. The hearing began in a London high court.
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.
The companies and executives, who all denied the misconduct allegations, were absolved of bribery last March by a jury, but now prosecutors have appealed that verdict.
Nigeria’s claim against JP Morgan for negligence in their judgment to shift funds paid by the energy giants into an escrow account controlled by a company influenced by Dan Etete, former oil minister of Nigeria, is outlined within a court document.
The hearing began with details of the claim by Roger Masefield, Nigeria’s representative. The hearing will conclude on April 7, and it is expected that a verdict could take several months to come out.
Masefield stated in court that Nigeria’s lawsuit rested 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.”
Under the Quincecare standard, banks must not pay out if they think their client will be ripped-off.
JP Morgan’s London offices handle business for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, as well as 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.