Adoke clean in Malabu oil deal, U.S. bank tells court
Contrary to the claims of the Federal Government, United States bank, JP Morgan Chase, has told a United Kingdom court that former Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN), did not take bribe in the OPL 245 deal.
The Federal Government is seeking compensation of $1.7 billion from JP Morgan, accusing the financial institution of “gross negligence” in transferring $801 million to Malabu Oil & Gas Limited in 2011 when “it ought to have known that it was a fraudulent and corrupt scheme.”
Nigeria is trying to prove that the legal agreements that led to the sale of OPL 245 by Malabu, the original allottees, to Shell and ENI was mired in corruption – with particular focus on Adoke, who gave the legal advice that resulted in the resolution of the dispute over the oil block.
JP Morgan, in its opening submissions for trial at the Business and Property Courts of England and Wales Commercial Court, said no court – civil or criminal – in any jurisdiction has ever found that there was a fraudulent and corrupt scheme as alleged.
It maintained: “On the contrary, the Italian criminal proceedings in which the defendants included many of the alleged participants in the scheme, including Dan Etete, Shell, Eni and various current or former employees of Shell and Eni, resulted in all of the accused being acquitted of all.
“When criminal proceedings were launched against Adoke in 2016 in Nigeria, he obtained an order from the Federal High Court declaring that his involvement in the negotiation, execution and implementation of the Resolution Agreements was in furtherance of the lawful directives/approvals of the President in the exercise of his executive powers, and that he could not therefore be held personally liable in respect of the same.
“As noted above, some of the major participants in the alleged scheme such as former President (Goodluck) Jonathan and former AGF, Bayo Ojo, have never been charged with any crime.
“Despite the fact that the Federal Government accuses Shell and Eni of participating in the alleged fraudulent and corrupt scheme, it has never taken any step to revoke the grant of OPL 245 to SNEPCO and NAE, or to rescind the Block 245 Resolution Agreement pursuant to which the grant was made.”
The bank continued: “It has also advanced arguments in multiple proceedings, including before this court, which either rely on, or are predicated on the validity of, the Resolution Agreements.”
Nigeria made a number of claims against Adoke in the UK commercial court, alleging that he collected a N300 million bribe in the $1.3 billion OPL 245 deal.
However, Adoke has always denied the allegation, maintaining that a failed N300 million mortgage transaction he did in 2013, two years after the OPL 245 deal was concluded, was being twisted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to indict him by all means.
He said he got a mortgage of N300 million from Unity Bank to buy a property worth N500 million, but when he could not provide his own equity contribution of N200 million, the property developer returned the N300 million loan to the bank and sold the house to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The anti-graft agency is currently trying Adoke in two courts over the N300 million.
In a Federal High Court, Abuja, the EFCC is accusing him of money laundering for allegedly repaying the N300 million mortgage to Unity Bank in cash.
In an FCT High Court, the commission is accusing him of corruption over the same N300 million, which it argued is a bribe.