NNPC’s matter with firm over N95b court award resolved, says corporation
THE controversy over a French court award of N95 billion compensation against the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and in favour of Lutin Investment Limited in a long standing dispute has been resolved, the African nation’s state-owned giant oil firm has said.
The corporation, in a statement, noted that a report on the matter which made the headlines last Saturday was fraught with material inaccuracies which could have been avoided if the reporter had taken reasonable care to double-check fact with NNPC.
The corporation stated that “the matter has since been laid to rest with the execution of a Settlement Agreement between NNPC and Lutin” with the former “paying the said amount as full and final settlement.” The NNPC explained that the saga began in 2007, when Lutin obtained an arbitral award against NNPC for the amounts stated in the story.
It went on: “While Lutin made several attempts to enforce the judgment within the Nigerian judicial system and by appealing to various successive government officials, including the past Attorneys-General mentioned in the story, and in various other jurisdictions, including the United States and France, NNPC resisted the enforcement of the judgment and sought to have the arbitral award set aside on grounds, inter alia, that the award was irregularly obtained’’.
The corporation stated that in late 2014, following appeals by Lutin to the Federal Government and after taking advice of NNPC’s external French counsel on the matter, the Corporation offered to pay to Lutin the judgment sum it was awarded at the arbitral tribunal in 2007 if Lutin would waive all claims for interest and any additional amounts. “
Lutin accepted this offer, the parties entered into a Settlement Agreement to that effect, NNPC subsequently paid the settlement amount and the matter was thus finally settled,” it said.
According to NNPC, “it was an express condition of the settlement that both parties waived any benefits that might accrue to them from the judgment of the French court (which at the time was imminent and which French counsel advised would not be stopped by the settlement).”
The corporation added: “Subsequently, the French court rejected NNPC’s challenge to the arbitral award. Contrary to the news story, the French court did not set aside the Settlement Agreement entered into between NNPC and Lutin in November 2014. That agreement was not in issue at all in the French court.
The only issue before the court was whether to uphold an order of 2007 made by a lower court in France recognizing the arbitral award.
“Based on the facts set out above, Lutin cannot seek to enforce the French judgment having expressly waived its rights to any benefits that might accrue from the judgment and having accepted the payment of the amount awarded to it in the arbitration (excluding interest and costs) as full and final settlement of all controversies between the parties. `
`Therefore, as far as NNPC is concerned, all issues arising from the Lutin arbitration have been finally settled and there is no judgment debt of N95billion or any amount whatsoever due from NNPC to Lutin.’’