A consortium of international and local anti-corruption groups have asked Abubakar Malami, Nigeria’s minister of justice and attorney-general of the federation, to make full disclosure on the assets recovered from the OPL 245 deal.
In a statement on Sunday, the anti-graft groups said the lack of openness in the entire process gives rise to the suspicion that corrupt officials might manipulate the process.
The consortium is made up of Corner House, Global Witness, Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA Resource Centre) and Re-Common.
The consortium is demanding details of Malami’s role in the asset recovery and 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 US litigation fund, to finance various OPL 245 related asset recovery cases.
“Assets running into billions of dollars have been recovered due to local and international litigations but there are increasing public outrage against the lack of transparency in the process,” a statement jointly signed by the groups read.
“Nigerians need to know assets recovered relating to the OPL 245 scam. This is one of the most significant corruption cases in Nigeria involving billions of dollars in stolen funds used by political figures to procure assets kept across the world.”
Global Witness, an anti-corruption group based in the UK, said it was contacted by Montfort Communications, a public relations firm that defends the legal team of the Nigerian government, after media publications that questioned the handling of the asset recovery and damages claims process.
The groups said Montfort offered to arrange a meeting to explore earlier raised concerns about the lack of transparency in the asset recovery deal saying it was ready for an open meeting driven by overall public interest.
Ahead of the meeting, the groups have made public the questions they intend to ask Malami.
The questions are:
1. How many OPL 245-related contracts have been signed between Johnson and Johnson and Drumcliffe?
2. On what dates were the contracts signed?
3. When and how was the Attorney General of Nigeria informed of the existence of such contracts?
4. When and how was the Solicitor General of Nigeria informed of the existence of such contracts?
5. 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?
6. 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?
7. 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?
8. 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?
9. Can you clarify: what fees and expenses arising from Nigeria’s asset recovery does Drumcliffe fund? What does it not fund?
10. Who is Drumcliffe’s counterparty in the funding agreements? The FRN? Or Johnson and Johnson?
11. 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?
12. 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?
13. 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?
14. What assurances can you give that Drumcliffe is not controlling the FRN’s legal strategy?
15. What codes of conduct, if any, does Drumcliffe subscribe to in the USA? Who regulates Drumcliffe? and what are the key regulatory requirements?
16. What assurances can you give that Drumcliffe has the capital in reserve to support the FRN’s asset recovery efforts long-term?
17. Who is paying the FRN’s £850k legal costs from the recent case it lost against Shell, Eni and others in London?
18. 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?
19. 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?
20. Has Drumcliffe funded other FRN/OPL 245 asset recovery cases before – please provide details?
21. Why are Drumcliffe’s funds incorporated in Delaware?
22. Who typically invests in Drumcliffe’s litigation funds?
23. What due diligence has been undertaken by Johnson and Johnson on the investors in Drumcliffe? And on Drumcliffe itself?
24. Has the FRN been informed of the names of the investors in Drumcliffe?
25. 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?