OPL245: How Malami Authorised Signing Of New Deal To Give American Firm 35 Per Cent Of Recovered Money

Johnson & Johnson, a Lagos law firm acting on the instructions of the Nigeria’s Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has signed a new deal with Poplar Falls LLC, a United States litigation firm to receive one-third of the recovered fund in the OPL245 case.

Abubakar Malami

Poplar Falls LLC, a company based in Delaware, will superintend the recovering of the illicitly acquired funds from Malabu Oil and Gas Limited on behalf of Nigeria.

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The deal will see the company receive 35 Per cent of the recovered funds from the $1.1bn of the illicitly acquired funds, findings by SaharaReporters has revealed.

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In 2016, J&J signed a contract with Drumcliffe Partners, a U.S. litigation fund, to finance various OPL 245 related asset recovery cases, for five per cent of funds recovered.

While this has been met with outrage, Malami further authorized J&J to enter a new deal with Poplar Falls LLC in 2018 to fund the recovery of OPL245 for 250 per cent of the funds contributed and 35 per cent of funds recovered.

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SaharaReporters also gathered that to ensure the delivery of the funds, the recovered funds in a designated account by Nigeria, the money will go into an escrow account controlled by a lawyer nominated by Poplar Falls LLC where the sharing will be made before Nigeria gets its part.

It was agreed that the funder, Poplar Falls LLC, will make claims payment to J&J or on its behalf in an amount up to $2.75m.

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The agreement also stipulates that the funders will receive their money before any disbursements are made to others.

In determining the distribution of payments, Johnson and Johnson must first repay the funder all payments made by the funder for the claim, then a further sum amounting to 1.5 times that total.

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The funder then receives 35 per cent of the remaining funds that have been recovered.

“Whereas J&J has received valid, binding instruction and mandate from the Attorney General of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to recover illicitly acquired funds from Malabu Oil and Gas Limited relating to OPL245 on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“The funder agrees to provide financial assistance to the counterparties to facilitate the prosecution and recovery of various claims and chooses in action, subject to the terms provided herein.

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“If, at any time, either counterparty or their affiliates or representatives receive any proceeds resulting from either civil or criminal proceedings, the counterparty shall give immediate notice of such receipt of counterparty proceeds to the funder and deposit the entire amount of the counterparty proceeds into the Escrow Account.

“The counterparties shall ensure that all counterparty proceeds received are immediately deposited into the Escrow Accounts and not into any other account,” the letter dated 5th of March 2018 and co-signed by Olabode Johnson for Johnson & Johnson and James C. Little, for the funder partly reads.

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“100 per cent to the funder, until the cumulative amount distributed to the funder equals 100 per cent of the total amount if claims payment made by the funder.

“Third, 35 per cent to the funder (the recovery percentage) and 65 per cent to the counterpart or its designees,” the agreement further states.

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If Nigeria or its law firm headed by Johnson and Johnson decides to terminate its agreement with Poplar Falls LLC, Nigeria “will pay a termination amount equal to 50 per cent of payments due to the funder in respect of assets already frozen or subject claims in course of recovery or the total amount of all claims payment made through the date of termination multiplied by two”.

Global anti-graft groups have asked Malami to make full disclosure on recovered assets linked to the OPL multi-billion dollar oil scam.

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The Corner House, Global Witness, Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA Resource Centre) and Re-Common through a letter to the Malami launched a filament of global campaigns for transparency in the quantum of assets recovered from the scam which lid was been blown open. 

In the petition, the groups raised 25 critical questions for Malami.

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“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. It is important that Nigerians and the international community know how many assets have been recovered,” the groups said.

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[Sahara Reporters]

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