Nigerian businessman, Arthur Eze, has been ordered by a British court to pay a British couple over £1million in compensation for pulling out of a deal to buy their £5million seven-bed London mansion, according to UK nwespaper, Dailymail.
Richard and Deborah Conway had put up the seven-bed North London home for sale, with Mr. Eze entering into a contract to pay £5million for the property.
However, he called off the deal. The Conways later sold the house for £4.2million and successfully sued the Nigerian businessman for making them sell the property at a lower price and for the additional costs they incurred while relocating to a new home they bought in the English countryside.
Judge Andrew Keyser of London's High Court awarded them more than £1million in compensation for the losses and expenses caused by Mr. Eze's withdrawal.
Mr. Eze, 62, owns Atlas Oranto Petroleum, an oil exploration company with holdings throughout West Africa, and is believed to be worth £2billion.
Lawyer to the Conways, Mr Matthew Collings (QC), told the judge that Mr. Eze's failure to complete the purchase of the couple's home forced them to take out an expensive bridging loan.
Mr Conway, now 62 and on the verge of retirement, said he and his wife had wanted to pay off all their debts and start again. That, he said, made them arrive at a target selling price of £5million. They were, however, forced to sell at a reduced price when Mr. Eze aborted the deal. Their lawyer described the Nigerian as a "chancer". They were introduced to Mr. Eze by a go-between, who told him about the property.
The businessman was ignorant of the finer details of the contract he entered in to and never inspected the house before making an offer. He denied breach of contract and counter-sued the Conways for the return of his £500,000 deposit.
The seven-bedroom property in Mill Hill, North London, has a beautiful swimming pool in a pool-house extension.
Mr Eze's lawyers claimed the sale contract was 'void' because the middleman had arranged a 'secret commission' to secure the deal. They denied that the sharp dip in international oil prices forced Eze to pull out of the deal. Eze told the court he wanted to buy the house but was concerned he was not receiving the 'proper information about what was going on.'
But the judge said the contract to buy the house was valid and ought to have been completed.
"Prince Eze had signed the contract," said the judge. He also stated that the middleman, who facilitated the deal 'certainly did have the authority to instruct the solicitors to exchange contracts' on Mr. Eze's behalf.
He ruled that the deal was binding. "Prince Eze had signed... the only contractual term that remained outstanding was the completion date," the judge held.
He awarded the Conways £800,000 to cover the drop in the sale price and another six-figure sum, yet to be fully calculated, to cover the extra costs they incurred.
Judge Keyser said Mr. Eze's £500,000 deposit would count towards the damages payment.