The Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA) and some other civil society organisations (CSOs) have asked Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation (AGF), to give details of the OPL 245 asset recovery deal entered with a US firm.
The Malabu Oil deal, which has resulted in a court case over allegations of bribery and corruption, dates back to 2011, when Shell and Eni acquired the massively rich OPL 245 for over $1.3 billion — paying $1.1 billion to take over 100 percent of Malabu’s interest and $210 million to the federal government as signature bonus.
Johnson & Johnson, a law firm reportedly acting on the instructions of the AGF, had signed a new deal with a US litigation firm to receive one-third of the recovered fund in the OPL 245 case.
The deal would see the US company get 35 percent as recovery fee.
The CSOs said following their publication over the matter, Global Witness, one of the groups, was contacted by Montfort Communications, a public relations firm acting for the federal government legal team.
Montfort, the CSOs said, offered to arrange a meeting to explore concerns they had raised “about the opacity of the funding arrangements that Johnson and Johnson, the Nigerian legal firm that has the fiat for all OPL 245 recovery claims, has entered into with Drumcliffe Partners, a U.S. litigation fund, to finance various OPL 245-related asset recovery cases.”
The group said they have agreed to the meeting, subject to it being on the record.
Putting 25 questions to the AGF, the groups said they are going public with the questions in the interest of accountability.
The groups asked what dates the contracts were signed, what fees and expenses arising from Nigeria’s asset recovery does the US firm fund, and what it does not fund.
“Has any complaint ever been made to any official body or official of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in respect of terms of the contracts? Has Johnson and Johnson or any legal firm employed by Johnson and Johnson explained the terms of the contracts to any official of the Federal Republic of Nigeria?” some of the questions read.
Below are the 25 questions raised:
- How many OPL 245-related contracts have been signed between Johnson and Johnson and Drumcliffe?
- On what dates were the contracts signed?
- When and how was the Attorney General of Nigeria informed of the existence of such contracts?
- When and how was the Solicitor General of Nigeria informed of the existence of such contracts?
- Has any complaint ever been made to any official body or official of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in respect of terms of the contracts?
- Has Johnson and Johnson or any legal firm employed by Johnson and Johnson explained the terms of the contracts to any official of the Federal Republic of Nigeria?
- Has any assessment been made by Johnson and Johnson or any legal firm employed by Johnson and Johnson of potential conflicts of interest that might arise from the contracts?
- Has Johnson and Johnson or any legal firm employed by Johnson and Johnson advised the Federal Republic of Nigeria as to how the contracts might impact the FRN’s rights?
- Can you clarify: what fees and expenses arising from Nigeria’s asset recovery does Drumcliffe fund? What does it not fund?
- Who is Drumcliffe’s counterparty in the funding agreements? The FRN? Or Johnson and Johnson?
- How much funding has Drumcliffe a) allocated and b) spent to date on the various OPL 245 asset recovery efforts (Italian civil claim, JP Morgan, Shell-Eni etc) to date?
- What is Drumcliffe’s typical rate of return? What is the lowest rate of return Drumcliffe will accept? What is Drumcliffe’s contractual rate of return in the case of FRN/OPL 245 recoveries?
- Litigation funders typically prefer to deduct what is owed to them prior to recovered assets or damages being remitted to the claimant. Please confirm that in the OPL 245-related contracts entered into between Johnson and Johnson and Drumcliffe, all recovered monies will be automatically credited to the FRN without prior deductions. If this is not the case, what procedure will be followed? Has that procedure been sanctioned by the Attorney General or the Solicitor General? Please clarify what deductions would be made and how these are consistent with FRN policy on asset recovery claims?
- What assurances can you give that Drumcliffe is not controlling the FRN’s legal strategy?
- What codes of conduct, if any, does Drumcliffe subscribe to in the USA? Who regulates Drumcliffe? and what are the key regulatory requirements?
- What assurances can you give that Drumcliffe has the capital in reserve to support the FRN’s asset recovery efforts long-term?
- Who is paying the FRN’s £850k legal costs from the recent case it lost against Shell, Eni and others in London?
- When did the FRN’s legal team in the recent Shell and Eni case first inform the FRN that Drumcliffe would not be liable for the £2 million adverse costs in the Shell, Eni and others case in London?
- Who is liable for putting up any securities for costs in other ongoing cases, Drumcliffe or the FRN? If the FRN, are they aware of this? When did you first inform them of this?
- Has Drumcliffe funded other FRN/OPL 245 asset recovery cases before – please provide details?
- Why are Drumcliffe’s funds incorporated in Delaware?
- Who typically invests in Drumcliffe’s litigation funds?
- What due diligence has been undertaken by Johnson and Johnson on the investors in Drumcliffe? And on Drumcliffe itself?
- Has the FRN been informed of the names of the investors in Drumcliffe?
- What contingent liabilities have been built up by the FRN for OPL 245 asset recovery cases undertaken through Johnson and Johnson? Who sanctioned these liabilities?