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UK Court Rules Against Nigeria in OPL 245 Sales Case

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Morgan Capital

By Adedapo Adesanya

A court sitting in the United Kingdom has ruled against Nigeria in the $1.7 billion suit against JP Morgan Chase Bank over the transfer of proceeds from the sale of OPL 245.

Judge Sara Cockerill of the Business and Property Courts of England and Wales Commercial Court held on Tuesday that the Nigerian government couldn’t show that it had been defrauded.

The federal government had sued JP Morgan, alleging that the bank “ought to have known” that there was corruption and fraud in the transaction which saw Malabu sell its 100 per cent in OPL 245 to Shell and ENI for $1.1 billion.

During a trial which lasted six weeks, Nigeria argued among other things that the bank acted negligently when it transferred $875 million in funds between 2011 to 2013 from government accounts to Mr Dan Etete, a former Minister of Petroleum who had been convicted of money laundering.

The country sought $1.7 billion as damages including interest for what it identified as “glaring” red flags, including “overwhelming” evidence of fraud and stark warnings from its own compliance staff when it authorized the payments.

The case essentially examined the extent of a bank’s duty of care toward clients, and whether it should have halted payments even if that meant overriding assurances from government officials.

The bank in its defence rejected Nigeria’s claims, maintaining that all due processes were followed and money laundering checks were done, arguing that allegations of fraud only came up after a new government took over in Nigeria.

JPMorgan also argued that it filed suspicious activity reports with enforcement authorities and gained their consent before making the transfers.

In the judgement, Judge Cockerill ruled that the Nigerian government could not prove that it was defrauded, saying it may be that with the benefit of hindsight, “JPMorgan would have done things differently” but declared that “none of these things individually or collectively amount to triggering and then breaching” the bank’s duty of care to its client.

According to the judge, by the time of the 2013 payments, the bank was “on notice of a risk” of fraud.

In its reaction to the judgment, JP Morgan in a statement said, “This judgment reflects our commitment to acting with high professional standards in every country we operate in, and how we are prepared to robustly defend our actions and reputation when they are called into question.”

A spokesperson for the federal government said it will be reviewing the judgment before deciding the next steps.

“The FRN will continue its fight against fraud and corruption and to work to recover funds for the people of Nigeria,” it said.

For context, Shell and ENI had paid a total of $1.3 billion to Nigeria’s account at JP Morgan — $801 million for Malabu, the original OPL 245 allottees, and $210 million as signature bonus to the federal government.

All attempts by Nigeria to prove that there was corruption in the OPL 245 deal have so far proved fruitless.

Business Post had reported that an Italian court in March 2021 dismissed all charges of corruption in the transaction, discharging and acquitting all the defendants, including Shell, ENI and Mr Dan Etete, the promoter of Malabu.

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) previously investigated the OPL 245 deal and announced in October 2019 that it was closing the case.

In April 2020, the US Securities and Exchange Commission also closed an investigation into the controversial deal after it could not prove fraud or corruption.

In the JP Morgan case, it was alleged that Mohammed Bello Adoke, the attorney-general of the federation when the transaction was concluded in 2011, was corrupt and that the entire deal was fraudulent.

Mr Adoke has always denied any wrongdoing, alleging political persecution and maintaining that there is a grand conspiracy to twist a failed mortgage transaction he did in 2013 as evidence of the alleged corruption.

Citing proceedings from Nigerian courts, JP Morgan said that on April 13, 2018, “the Nigerian Federal High Court granted declarations to the effect that Mr Adoke could not be held personally liable in respect of the payments to Malabu (and the giving of instructions to JPMC to make them) because he was merely carrying out the lawful directives and approvals of the President”.

The bank said for Nigeria to make a case, it must prove that “Mr Adoke caused the Resolution Agreements to be concluded and the payment instructions to be issued; and that he did so in exchange for bribes.”

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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Economy

95% of Insurance Firms Upload Data to NAICOM Server

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NAICOM

By Adedapo Adesanya

The National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) has revealed that 95 per cent of insurance operators have uploaded their data on its platform as instructed within the last one month.

This disclosure was made by the Deputy Commissioner Technical, NAICOM, Mr Sabiu Abubakar, at an event in Lagos. He added that the commission was optimistic that before the end of the third quarter, the remaining 5 per cent will meet up the deadline.

He submitted that online processing of licenses, approvals and data uploading has started for most of the operational requests of the regulated agencies, stressing that issues arising from this application are being addressed promptly and that good progress has been recorded in the uploading of data on NAICOM server.

The insurance regulator official said NAICOM has trained both its staff and the insurance institution on how they use the portal.

On his part, the Commissioner for Insurance, Mr Sunday Thomas, said the NAICOM portal is one of the initiatives the agency was pursuing its efforts to deepen the insurance market and increase the penetration to a level that is consistent with the nation’s economy.

“As some of us may be aware, the Commission in July 2009, embarked on a comprehensive computerization effort tagged project e-regulation that was meant to transform its operational procedures and the conduct of its regulatory responsibilities by providing a robust, world-class ICT Infrastructure to help implement automated business processes internally and for industry-wide supervision via an integrated platform,” he said.

Mr Thomas noted that prior to the development of the portal, the processing of applications required that applicants physically drop off their applications at the commission with their attendant challenges of delays in processing times, and wasted manpower hours due to back-and-forth in application processing as well as ineffective application tracking system.

He then charged those yet to do the required task to help ease operations by uploading their data.

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Economy

A Thoughtful Approach to Wealth Management

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wealth management

By FBNQuest

Across the world, as baby boomers (aged 58-76) near and enter retirement, the attendant transfer of wealth between generations is necessitating a thoughtful approach to wealth management, instigated by common storylines such as this:

“I’m 35 years old and inherited $450,000 this year when my father passed away. I used part of the funds to buy a flat in old Ikoyi, and with the help of a financial advisor, invested the rest ($250,000) in a retirement plan.

“We set a budget so that the interest from the leftover principal could help pay my mortgage. I’m not supposed to touch the investment account…right?”

The coronavirus pandemic has also brought on triple threats to lives, livelihoods, and financial markets, causing individuals and businesses to pause and think about their financial priorities and legacy.

On the minds of wealth managers, therefore, will be a myriad of issues, including:

    Devising new ways of segmenting and serving clients across the wealth spectrum.

    Creating new and more efficient distribution channels by adopting new and enhanced technologies.

    Achieving sustainable and inclusive growth for clients.

    The fact that wealth and health needs will merge, leads to goal-based wealth platforms.

Africa: Wealth Rankings (by Country)

Where in Africa do the well-to-do reside and in what numbers? The recently released Africa Wealth Report 2022 shows that there are currently 136,000 High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs) living on the continent, along with 5,110 multi-millionaires, 305 centi-millionaires and 21 billionaires. It also illustrates that the total private wealth in Africa currently stands at $2.1trn, an amount that is expected to rise by 38% to $3trn in the next decade.

The Future of Wealth Management

The impact of COVID-19 on wealth management organisations and investors is expected to drive both groups to position themselves to thrive in the new normal. For them, this can mean considering several of the following actions as they seek opportunity amidst uncertainty.

Millennials and the ‘Great Wealth Transfer’: Many young people are in line to become extremely wealthy, in what is referred to as The Great Wealth Transfer. Wealth is expected to gradually change hands from one generation to the next before the year 2030.

Without knowledge of money management, saving for the future and smart investing, Millennials could jeopardise their futures. Financial literacy tools will come into play in reinforcing areas of potential strength, such as Logic vs. Emotion (understanding how to manage money based on the risk and potential return); Frugality vs. Extravagance (adopting delayed gratification); and Saving vs. Spending (think retirement accounts, emergency funds).

Younger investors also tend to feel less confident about how to reach their investment goals, which can lead to cautious investing – an irony, as investors with a longer time frame should ideally have the latitude to take more risk.

AI, Machine Learning: Technology such as Artificial intelligence (AI) will continue to make it possible to do far more in less time, and with fewer resources, while Machine learning can help wealth managers recognise patterns, anticipate future events, and create rules – think client calculation engines, modelling and simulation, and analytics. Robo-advising, the trusted AI-driven, virtual wealth management service, will resonate strongly with the tech-savvy Millennial generation and is essential for future wealth management industry growth.

Human and Digital Hybrids: Millennials are currently between the ages of 25 and 40.  This is an extensive range. Some of them are definitely keen on self-service, but there is also an appreciable number of affluent millennials who are on the verge of making really complex decisions when they will need human interaction to add real value, through strategic planning and advice. For this group, the key is to not only take advantage of the digital space but also to intersperse it with human interactions – a hybrid scenario.

Transformational Web Delivery via Mobile: Following the initial push to move services online, wealth managers are now cementing a second stage, with a particular focus on ubiquity over-mobile. Websites will deliver an even wider range of services where clients are able to view their investments and transactions, invest in Mutual Funds directly, and place orders to purchase or sell shares, regardless of their location, and while on the go. They are also able to access research reports and insightful market data.

In conclusion

The Planning Effect

Uncertainty should not be a reason to put your future on hold or hamper your ability to grow your wealth and keep more of what you earn. Whether you seek effective funds management, long-term planning, or investment strategy, an experienced wealth management professional can help you develop a personalised plan by carefully assessing your investment preferences and risk tolerance.

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Economy

CitiTrust Lifts Over-the-Counter Bourse by 0.05%

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Cititrust

By Adedapo Adesanya

CitiTrust Holdings Plc played the central role in lifting the National Association of Securities Dealer (NASD) Over-the-Counter (OTC) Securities Exchange by 0.05 per cent on Thursday, August 11.

This raised the NASD market capitalisation by N550 million yesterday to N1.007 trillion from the previous day’s N1.006 trillion as the NASD Unlisted Securities Index (NSI) went up by 0.41 points to wrap the session at 765.28 points compared with 764.87 points of the previous session.

On Thursday, the stock price of CitiTrust Holdings Plc rose by 55 Kobo to N11.90 per share from the N11.35 per share it was sold in the Wednesday session.

A look at the trading activity indicated that there was an 86.5 per cent increase in the volume of securities traded at the bourse yesterday to 111,021 units from the previous trading day’s 59,538 units.

However, the value of shares transacted by market participants went down by 41.7 per cent to N2.7 million from N4.6 million just as the number of trades reduced by 43.8 per cent to nine deals from the 16 deals executed a day earlier.

AG Mortgage Bank Plc remained the most traded stock by volume on a year-to-date basis with the sale of 2.3 billion units worth N1.2 billion, (Central Securities Clearing System) CSCS Plc stood in second place with the sale of 686.5 million units worth N14.2 billion, while Food Concepts Plc was in third place with the sale of 147.8 million units valued at N128.4 million.

Also, CSCS Plc was the most traded stock by value on a year-to-date basis with a turnover of 686.5 million units valued at N14.2 billion, VFD Group Plc was in second place with the sale of 11.1 million units worth N3.3 billion, while FrieslandCampina WAMCO Nigeria Plc in third place has transacted 13.9 million units valued at N1.7 billion.

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