JPMorgan Chase has won a London High Court battle against Nigeria, which was seeking $1.7 billion in damages over the U.S. bank’s role in a disputed 2011 oilfield deal. The civil case, which was heard earlier this year, relates to the purchase by Shell and Eni of Nigeria’s OPL 245 offshore oilfield. Nigeria had alleged JPMorgan was “grossly negligent” in its transfer of funds paid by the energy majors to a company linked to the country’s disgraced former oil minister Dan Etete, as per instructions received from Nigerian government officials. Nigeria now says those officials were party to a fraudulent scheme. According to Nigeria’s legal argument, the transactions put JPMorgan in breach of its Quincecare duty, which obliges banks to disregard a customer’s instructions if following those instructions might facilitate fraud against that customer. JP Morgan rejected the legal argument, putting the emphasis on its primary duty to comply promptly with payment instructions from its customer, and also contested some of the factual elements put forward by Nigeria. London High Court Judge Sara Cockerill said in a 137-page ruling issued on Tuesday that no Quincecare breach had occurred. The damages sought included cash sent to Etete’s company Malabu Oil and Gas, around $875 million paid in three instalments in 2011 and 2013, plus interest, taking the total to over $1.7 billion. Nigerian military ruler Sani Abacha had awarded licence OPL 245 to a company Etete owned in 1998. Subsequent Nigerian administrations had challenged Etete’s rights to the field over many years until a deal to resolve the impasse via a sale to Shell and Eni was struck in 2011. The transaction is also at the centre of ongoing legal action in Italy.
Online platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Tiktok will be required to register and open offices in Nigeria and appoint contact persons with the government, new draft regulations from the information technology development agency show. The code of practice for “interactive computer service platforms/internet intermediaries” was meant to curb online abuse, including disinformation and misinformation, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) said in the regulations posted on its website. A statement from the agency’s spokesperson dated 13 June said the regulations were developed with input from Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Google and TikTok, among others. NIDTA said the platforms would be required to provide to users or authorised government agencies relevant information, including for purposing of preserving security and public order. They would also have to file annual reports to NITDA with the number of registered users in Nigeria, the number of complaints received and content taken down due to disinformation and misinformation. Nigeria earlier this year lifted a ban on Twitter saying the United States-based company had agreed to set up a local office among other agreements with authorities.
Mauritius Commercial Bank (MCB), the largest bank in the Indian Ocean island country, will open a representative office in Nigeria in months as it seeks to expand beyond oil and gas deals to cover renewables and mining, a senior executive said. MCB, which has $850 million in exposure in Nigeria, already has representative offices in Nairobi and Johannesburg as part of its push into Africa, in addition to its offices in Dubai and Paris. Thierry Hebraud, head of corporate and institutional banking said on the sidelines of the Africa CEO Forum in Abidjan that the pandemic had delayed plans for the Nigeria office but they were now in the final phase of central bank approval. Hebraud said the bank now focused on structured finance in the upstream and downstream oil and gas industry and the oil trade and was looking to expand into renewables and mining. Until now, it has handled deals from its Port Louis headquarters including assisting Nigerian companies as they move to acquire assets put on sale by international oil firms. The Nigeria office would eventually cover neighbouring Ghana, which also exports cocoa and mines gold, Hebraud said. MCB already has exposure worth about $300 million in Ghana, and a further $200 million in Senegal and Ivory Coast. Its clients include Turkey’s Karadeniz, which operates floating power ships in several West African countries.
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said on Tuesday his government had formed a committee to negotiate with forces from the rebellious northern region of Tigray, in the first public confirmation of a key step toward peace negotiations. The nearly two-year conflict in Ethiopia, Africa’s second-most populous nation, has displaced more than 9 million people, plunged parts of Tigray into famine conditions and killed thousands of civilians. “Regarding the peace … a committee has been established and it will study how we will conduct talks,” Abiy told parliament, the first time he has publicly referred to the body. The committee, headed by Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen, has 10 to 15 days to hammer out details of negotiations. Getachew Reda, the spokesperson for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), said his group was prepared to participate in a “credible, impartial and principled” peace process. The TPLF – a former rebel army turned political party – dominated national politics for nearly three decades until Abiy’s appointment in 2018 reduced their rule to Tigray. The TPLF accused Abiy of wanting to centralise power at the expense of the regions, while he said they were seeking to regain national power. Fighting erupted in Tigray in November 2020 and spilled over into the neighbouring regions of Afar and Amhara last year. Troops from neighbouring Eritrea also entered the conflict in support of Abiy’s force. Eritrean and Ethiopian forces withdrew from most of Tigray in mid-2021 and the Abiy government declared a unilateral ceasefire in March.