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N875m suit: Nigeria wins as court orders JPMorgan to disclose documents

Nigeria has succeeded in its bid to compel JPMorgan Chase to disclose more documents ahead of a trial in which the US bank stands accused of enabling the misappropriation of almost $900million in state funds. According to the Finan-cial Times, the UK High Court yesterday granted Nigeria’s application to secure records from top US executives and compliance officers involved in signing off $875m in payments between 2011 and 2013 relating to the controversial OPL 245 oil licence deal.

Nigeria welcomed the ruling. A representative of the Federal Government said JP Morgan should give a “clear and unambiguous account of exactly how the decisions to make these huge payments were made when it was on notice that to pay out risked its customer, Nigeria, being defrauded,” the representative continued.

“Justice will be sought for the people of Nigeria, who will be pleased the trial will begin early next year.” The court’s ruling set out a number of searches JP Morgan must carry out. Among those named to comply with the order are Pamela Johnson, Lester Pataki and John Gibbons, high-ranking executives at the bank. JP Morgan must provide the documents by July 20 and must also pay the costs. Nigeria’s complaint focuses on three payments, two in 2011 for $801.5mn and the third in 2013 for $74.2mn. These payments went from Nigeria’s account to Malabu Oil and Gas.

The latter company is linked to Nigeria’s former oil minister Dan Etete. Nigeria has asked for JP Morgan to pay it the $875mn, plus interest. The bank must have known that the payments were potentially fraudulent, Nigeria has said. Despite concerns arising from the 2011 payments, the bank still went and paid the third tranche in 2013. Nigeria’s case attempts to determine what JP Morgan knew – or suspected.

Searches thus far have focused on the bank’s EMEA database, rather than its US records. JP Morgan clearly had concerns on the first round of payments, in 2011. Two efforts to send the cash failed, with recipient banks rejecting them. The bank also filed a number of suspicious activity reports (SARs) in the US and UK

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