JPMorgan Memo Warned $875 Million Nigeria Payment Was Graft Risk
10 May 2021

JPMorgan Chase & Co. was warned by its compliance team over the “great risk” of corruption just days before it made the last of three transfers that totaled $875 million to a former Nigerian oil minister.

The internal memo is set to be scrutinized in a London lawsuit brought by the West African nation. The U.S. bank is accused of ignoring red flags when it transferred funds between 2011 to 2013 from government accounts to Dan Etete, who had been convicted of money laundering.

The current government says a contract awarded by one of its predecessors to explore the deep waters off the Gulf of Guinea was corrupt.

European and Nigerian courts have been raking over the purchase by Eni SpA and Royal Dutch Shell Plc of the oil license in Africa’s largest crude producer a decade ago. While the energy giants were recently acquitted of corruption charges in Milan in a decision prosecutors could appeal, Nigeria’s government is continuing to seek compensation from JPMorgan.

The memo disclosed at a London court hearing this week shows what JPMorgan managers knew about the oil contract and when, lawyers for the Nigerian government said in court documents. A spokesperson for the investment bank declined to comment.

The government claims Etete distributed a portion of the funds received via the bank from the oil majors to corrupt former and serving senior public officials.

By Jonathan Browning, Bloomberg, 7 May 2021

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