By Selin Bucak
JP Morgan is being sued by the Nigerian government for $875 million (£660 million) for allegedly being the middleman in an illegal oil deal, making payments to a convicted money launderer.
According to the Times, papers filed with the High Court claim that JP Morgan transferred money to a company controlled by former oil minister Dan Etete, who had previously been convicted of money laundering by French courts. He is also being pursued by Nigerian authorities.
JP Morgan is being accused of being ‘grossly negligent’ when it handed over more than $800 million ‘without proper application or regard to its obligations’.
Etete, who is owner of Malabu Oil & Gas, served under military dictator Sani Abacha in the 1990s. During his time as minister, Malabu was awarded an exploration licence. Later, an agreement was made for Malabu to give up to licence for a fee which would then be sold to Shell and Eni, with JP Morgan handling the transactions.
JP Morgan has stated: ‘We consider the allegations made in the claim to be unsubstantiated and without merit.’
Italian prosecutors have a separate case investigating the deal involving Shell and Eni. A judge is expected to decide whether the case will go to trial on Wednesday.
The Nigerian government has also brought money laundering charges against Etete and Nigeria's former attorney general Mohammed Adoke.