Nigeria has filed a claim against JP Morgan Chase for more than $875 million, accusing it of negligence in transferring funds from a disputed 2011 oilfield deal to a company controlled by the country’s former oil minister.
A spokeswoman for JP Morgan dismissed the accusation on Thursday, saying the firm “considers the allegations made in the claim to be unsubstantiated and without merit”.
The suit filed in British courts relates to a purchase of the offshore OPL 245 oilfield in Nigeria by oil majors Royal Dutch Shell and Eni in 2011.
At the core of the case is a $1.3 billion payment from Shell and Eni to secure the block that the lawsuit says was deposited into a Nigerian government escrow account managed by JP Morgan.
The lawsuit said JP Morgan then received a request from finance ministry workers to transfer more than $800 million of the funds to accounts controlled by the previous operator of the block, Malabu Oil and Gas, itself controlled by former oil minister Dan Etete.
The lawsuit said that JP Morgan then transferred the funds to two accounts controlled by Etete, without sufficient due diligence to make sure the money did not leave accounts controlled by the Nigerian government.