An internal email exchange between anti-money laundering officers at JP Morgan Chase (JPMC) bank records that a former Nigerian Attorney-General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke sought to transfer over $1 billion from government account, after he had left office.
The information showed that “Mr Adoke”, described in the email as “the former Nigerian Minister of Justice and Attorney General”, sought to transfer $1,092,015,000 from a Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) account, held with the London branch of JPMC, even though he was not a Minister at the time, an Italian newspaper, IRPIMEDIA reports.
It was however gathered that JPMC refused to act on the transfer proposal.
The funds were held in an account set up by the Nigerian government to receive funds from oil multinationals— Shell and Eni as part of the deal through which the companies acquired the licence to the controversial OPL 245 oil block in Nigeria in 2011.
The funds were ultimately transferred by officials of the Nigerian government to Malabu Oil and Gas, the company that previously held the licence.
Malabu is controlled by convicted money laundered, Dan Etete who awarded the block to the company when he was oil minister.
The JPMC email, dated 24 June 2011, was entered as defense evidence by ENI in its recent trial in Milan on charges of international corruption related to the OPL 245 deal.
The Milan court acquitted the company (together with Shell and other defendants) in March 2021.
The judgment has been appealed by the Prosecutor and the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which is a party to the case.
The email, entitled “FGN summary of the facts”, was prompted by the failed transfer of $1,092,015,000 from the Nigerian government account to an account at BSI bank in Switzerland held by Petrol Services Ltd, a company close to the then Italy’s honourary consul in Nigeria and his Nigerian associates. The transfer was rejected by BSI bank for ‘compliance’ reasons.
The email gives a detailed chronology of JPMC’s business relationship with the FGN in relation to the account. It was written by Simon Lloyd, JPMC’s Executive Director of Anti-Money Laundering and Sanctions Compliance for Europe, Middle East and Africa.
Lloyd’s email log records that the Nigerian cabinet, in which Adoke had served as Attorney General, had been dissolved on 30 May 2011, following the results of a general election. A new cabinet was not fully appointed until 2 July 2011. From 30 May to 2 July, Adoke was therefore out of office. Nonetheless, according to Lloyd, JPMC received a telephone call on 20 June 2011 “from Mr Adoke, the former Nigerian Minister of Justice and Attorney General”.
At the time, former Attorney General Adoke was a private citizen, not a government official.
The email records: “Adoke states that FGN would like to give JPM another instruction to make payment to a separate account number in another bank. Mr Adoke proposed that in the absence of a serving Minister of Finance, the instructions would come from the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Finance. From 30 May to 2 July, Adoke was therefore out of office.”
JPM declined to act on the reported request by “Mr Adoke”.
According to Lloyd: “JPM advised that he would need to be instructed by the new Minister of Finance as the authorised representative of FGN in the agreement. Adoke has stated that he was on holiday abroad as a private citizen from 29 May 2011-2 July 2011 and did not have any dealings with official matters on behalf of the Government of the Federation of Nigeria”.
Adoke’s denial that he acted in an official capacity from 29 May- 2 July 2011 was first made in response to the disclosure of a further email, dated 21 June 2011.
This second email, obtained by the Milan Prosecutor through a Mutual Legal Assistance request to the United Kingdom, was sent from ‘[email protected]’ to Bayo Osolake, an employee at JPMC. Attorney General Adoke was in touch with Osalake when the FRN account at JPMC was being set up.
The email, which was sent a day after the telephone call from a ‘Mr Adoke’ that Lloyd recorded in his log of correspondence, was signed “Mohammed Bello Adoke”.
The Resolution Agreements for the OPL 245 deal were attached to email. In an apparent reference to these attachments, Lloyd’s log records that on 21 June JPMC was provided with “details of the settlement between all the parties” by “the Nigerian office of the Attorney General”, adding: “The details of this settlement are not in the public domain”.
Mr Adoke has vigorously denied sending the 21 June email, which he describes as a forgery.