3 Banks Dragged to Court for Violating Freeze on Shell Accounts

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SWITZERLAND, FEBRUARY 25 – Three Nigerian banks have been dragged before the court over their alleged violation of restrictions place by the court on bank accounts of oil giant, Shell.

According to media sources, Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo of the Federal High Court in Lagos will on March 22 decide whether or not to hear a contempt proceeding filed against the three Nigerian banks by indigenous oil firm, Aiteo Eastern E & P Company Limited.

Last week, Aiteo filed a lawsuit against Shell, seeking over $4 billion in damages due to an alleged loss of over 16 million barrels of crude to Shell from oil injected into Shell – operated Bonny Export Terminal via the Nembe Creek Trunk Line, NCTL.

In response to Aiteo’s lawsuit, the High Court issued a Mareva order directing 20 commercial banks to place restrictions on Shell accounts to the tune of the cash value of more than 16 million barrels of crude pending the hearing and final determination of the case.

Aiteo is the operator of OML 29 and the Nembe Creek Trunk Line (NCTL), which it acquired from Shell in 2015. The indigenous oil giant is also one of the injectors into the NCTL, which evacuates crude from the oil fields to the Bonny Export Terminal, where it is shipped off to buyers abroad.

At the resumed hearing of the matter on Wednesday, Aiteo’s counsel, Kemi Pinheiro, SAN, told the court that he had filed two applications, the first a motion for interlocutory injunction and a committal of proceedings against the three banks for disobeying the court order to block Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd bank accounts.

Pinheiro told the Judge that the alleged contemnors willfully disobeyed the court’s interim orders of January 25, 2021 directing them to block SPDC accounts, for allegedly “interfering, obstructing and/or frustrating compliance with the interim orders.”

The banks and their officials are: Citi Bank Ltd, its Company Secretary Sola Fagbure and Chief Financial Officer, Sharaf Mohammed; First Bank of Nigeria Ltd, its Company Secretary, Irene Netimah, and Chief Financial Officer, Patrick Iyamabo; United Bank For Africa (UBA) Plc, its Company Secretary, Bill Andrew Odum, and Chief Financial Officer, Ebenezer Kolawole.

Pinheiro further prayed for an order “directing the Inspector General of Police through his officers to “immediately arrest, detain, investigate and prosecute the respondents for interfering with the course of administration of Justice”

The lawyer also informed the court that five of the banks had complied with the directive of the court while three others, FCMB, Wema Bank PLC and Zenith Bank Plc, had no relationship with the Defendant.

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