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JP Morgan responds to FG’s Malabu court case

The Federal Government’s suit against JPMorgan Chase & Co has been described as a claim with no real prospect of success by Rosalind Phelps, a lawyer for the American multinational investment bank.

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JPMorgan Chase & Co, Malabu Oil, Dan Etete, Oil scandal, ENI, Shell

The Federal Government’s suit against JPMorgan Chase & Co has been described as a claim with no real prospect of success by Rosalind Phelps, a lawyer for the American multinational investment bank.

The Nigerian government filed a legal action against JPMorgan Chase & Co for the company’s failure to prevent $875 million in corrupt payments. But the lawyer told the UK court to strike out the lawsuit, stating that Nigerian officials approved the transfer of the funds to accounts of former oil minister, Dan Etete.

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According to a Bloomberg report, after settling a controversial oil deal in 2011, the money was sent to Malabu Oil & Gas Ltd., a firm controlled by Dan Etete, who’s been convicted of money laundering.

The bank “had no duty to inquire into or investigate the validity or legality of the instructions it received

“The only allegation that’s left is one of negligence.” Rosalind Phelps, a lawyer for JPMorgan, said in court.

Nigeria’s claim against JPMorgan Chase & Co.

JPMorgan was reportedly “on notice” and the bank faced several “red flags” that should have caused it to block the payments, Nigeria stated in its submissions to the court. Adding that the contracts to explore the deep offshore waters of the Gulf of Guinea were tainted by corruption.

The fraud was said to have reached the highest levels of the government of then-President Goodluck Jonathan, who also denied wrongdoing. The bank should have realized it couldn’t trust the senior officials from whom it took the instructions, Nigeria has said.

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Shell and ENI’s role in the controversial oil deal 

The controversial oil deal — the OPL 245 oilfield — was said to have been signed off to Shell and ENI after both companies allegedly paid bribes to Nigerian officials to the tune of $1.1 billion. The man who is alleged to have received the bribe is former Nigerian Minister of Petroleum, Dan Etete, who reportedly used his company to receive kickbacks from the deal.

Although, Shell and Eni have previously denied any wrongdoing in an Italian criminal case over the block, called OPL 245. The companies said they made the payment into a legitimate government account to settle legal claims related to the block.

About JPMorgan 

JPMorgan Chase is one of the oldest financial institutions in the United States. With a history dating back over 200 years. JPMorgan Chase is a leader in investment banking, financial services for consumers and small businesses, commercial banking, financial transaction processing, and asset management.

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The company’s stock is a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. With assets of $2.6 trillion, the company has a presence in over 100 markets, with over 250,000 employees serving millions of consumers, small businesses and many of the world’s most prominent corporate, institutional and government clients.

Patricia

Olalekan is a certified media practitioner from the Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ). In the era of media convergence, Olalekan is a valuable asset, with ability to curate and broadcast news. His zeal to write was developed out of passion to shape people’s thought and opinion; serving as a guideline for their daily lives. Contact for tips: fakoyejo.ol[email protected]

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IMF assessing additional tools to provide aid to pandemic-hit countries 

The IMF had earlier noted that the Nigerian economy would witness a deeper contraction of 5.4%.

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IMF says it can mobilize $1 trillion loan to help countries counter Coronavirus

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) noted that it is reviewing additional tools to help provide financing to poorest countries of the world as well as others that have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. This was noted by the Fund’s Managing Director, Kristalina Georgieva. 

The IMF had reduced its projections for the world economy, projecting a GDP growth of 5.4% in 2021 compared to 5.8% in its earlier forecasts as a result of the expected challenges to global value chains due to the coronavirus pandemic which has affected the global demand for goods and services. It had also reviewed its projection for Nigeria, noting that the Nigerian economy would witness a deeper contraction of 5.4% and not the 3.4% that it has projected in April 2020. 

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Georgieva explained to finance ministers and central bank governors from the Group of 20 major economies in the world that they should consider extending a freeze in the official bilateral debt service payments that have been offered to the poorest countries beyond the end of 2020, and seek out better ways to promote private-sector participation. 

READ ALSO: United Capital Plc records 16% rise in profit to N1.9 billion in H1 2020

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She also noted that there is ardent need to think about “more comprehensive debt relief for many countries,” as a result of the severity of the crisis as well as the already high debt load that many of the respective countries already had to deal with. 

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UK and allies accuse Russia of hacking and stealing COVID-19 vaccine data

UK said that vaccine and therapeutic sectors in multiple countries have been targeted by Russian state intelligence.

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Vaccine, COVID-19: How the tables turned on Europe, FG travel restrictions on 13 countries: A little too late?, Slack founder takes a swipe at Microsoft, says Teams is not a threat https://www.marketwatch.com/story/slack-ceo-the-week-of-march-9-was-the-most-productive-in-our-companys-history-2020-04-13?mod=investing The founder of Slack, Stewart Butterfield, has taken a swipe at rival, Microsoft after Slack gained 2 million in about two weeks, increasing its connected users to 12.5 million in March 2020. Butterfield said Microsoft is no threat to Slack in the team-messaging app market, citing its performance and customer base. Butterfield said Microsoft has been pushing its rival, Teams, with free service for three years, despite this, no Slack enterprise customer has switched to Teams, “Microsoft has made a huge push the past three years with a free service, but can you find a single Slack enterprise customer who has switched to Teams?” “If Microsoft is such a competitive threat to Slack as it says, we would not have grown in sales and $1 million customers,” Butterfield told MarketWatch. He asserted that Slack's wide breadth, with up to 25,000 channels and security features give it a competitive advantage in the market. It took Slack about four years to move from 1 million simultaneously connected users on its platform to reach 10 million on March 10. The team-messaging app later hit 12.5 million on March 25, “The week of March 9 was the most productive in our company’s history,” he said. How both firms performed in March: Both Teams and Slack have both been having an impressive performance in March following the lockdown. The work-from-home caused by the Coronavirus outbreak has fueled the rise in Teams and Slack usage. Microsoft announced that teams recorded 2.7 billion meeting minutes on March 31, a 200 per cent increase from the 900 million recorded mid-March. Meanwhile, its Total video calls saw a 1000 per cent rise in same March. Before March ending, Teams accounted for 32 million on March 11 2020, but now clocks 44 million people on daily basis; a significant growth from the 20 million in November 2019. One of the biggest feat for Teams is Pentagon, which launched a Microsoft-based teleworking service for 4 million employees. Meanwhile, the cumulative number of minutes of active use of Slack during weekdays by all users globally now exceeds 1 billion. It was revealed that the company added 9,000 new paid customers from February 1 to March 25, an 80% increase over the full quarterly total the preceding two quarters. Slack also saw paid subscribers, which includes the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, KPMG and TD Ameritrade AMTD, -4.99 per cent, have climbed to 110,000. Slack experienced a surge in customers that spent more than $1 million annually on its product - the number climbed from 39 year-ago quarter to 70. This reflected in Slack's share, which gained 10 per cent this year, as its fiscal fourth-quarter revenue hit $181.9 million from $122 million a year ago; this is a 49 per cent surged. Scolding Microsoft further, Butterfield said, “I mean, 44 million is an impressive number, but that is out of 200 million Office 365 customers. That’s about a 20% adoption rate.” He added that, “The smaller startup has an advantage against the large, established company because its focus is narrowed on doing one thing better,” Butterfield said.

The UK and its allies have accused Russian state intelligence of hacking international research centres that are in a race to develop a vaccine for COVID-19. The UK, US and Canada on Thursday, said that Russian intelligence is attempting to steal information on those vaccines through irresponsible cyberattacks.

It is, however, unclear if the research facilities have been damaged or if the vaccine programmes have been set back as a result of the hacks but the officials warned that the cyber-attacks are ongoing.

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UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), said that vaccine and therapeutic sectors in multiple countries have been targeted by a group known as APT29, which it said is almost certainly part of Russian state intelligence. Security agencies in the U.S. and Canada later issued their own statements backing up the findings. Russia denied involvement.

The British Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, said, ‘’It is completely unacceptable that the Russian intelligence services are targeting those working to combat the coronavirus pandemic. While others pursue their selfish interests with reckless behaviour, the U.K. and its allies are getting on with the hard work of finding a vaccine and protecting global health.

READ ALSO: NDIC to use AI, digital technology to tackle emerging threats to banks 

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The Russians have however denied the allegations by the UK and its allies.

In an explanation to Bloomberg, the Russian spokesman said, ‘’We don’t know who may have hacked pharmaceutical companies and research centers. We can only say Russia has nothing to do with these attempts. We don’t accept such accusations.’’

The NCSC said APT29, which is also known as Cozy Bear or The Dukes, has targeted U.K., U.S. and Canadian vaccine research and development organizations. They said the campaign of malicious activity is ongoing, predominantly against government, diplomatic, think-tank, healthcare and energy targets to steal valuable intellectual property.

READ MORE: African Union begins COVID-19 vaccine trial group

A cybersecurity firm, Carbon Black, in a published analysis in March, said researchers have long linked APT29 to Russian intelligence agencies as for more than a decade, the group has carried out hacking campaigns that have targeted dozens of governments, research institutes, and corporations around the world.

The British claims were supported by partners at the Canadian Communications Security Establishment (CSE), the US Department for Homeland Security (DHS), Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the National Security Agency (NSA).

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READ ALSO: This billionaire wants to reduce the number of hours people work

The NSA said organizations in the U.S. involved in vaccine development were also targeted by the hackers with the objective of the hacking and stealing information and intellectual property relating to the development and testing of Covid-19 vaccines.

The Canadian government said they are working with Westminster and Washington to stop these cyber-attacks.

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Okonjo-Iweala shares her vision with WTO members, as she pitches for DG post

Okonjo-Iweala said she has all it takes to become the first African DG of the global trade force.

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WTO, Okonjo-Iweala joins South Africa's presidential economic advisory council as nation struggles with recession

Nigeria’s former Coordinating Minister for the Economy under President Goodluck Jonathan, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is optimistic about being appointed as the next Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Her optimism is not limited to the endorsements she got from President Muhammadu Buhari , National Assembly (Senate and House of Representatives) and Economic Community for the West African States but the confidence that she has what it takes to become the first African and female WTO DG since the global trade force was established in 1995.

While pitching for the post in Geneva, Switzerland on Wednesday, two-time Nigeria’s Finance Minister shared her vision with the WTO’s 164 member states. Along with Okonjo-Iweala, seven other candidates also pitched for the job. as they presented themselves to the members of the global trade body. The other candidates are Abdel-Hamid Mamdouh (Egypt), Amina Mohamed (Kenya), Jesús Kuri (Mexico), Tudor Ulianovschi (Moldova), Yoo Myung-hee (Korea), Mohammad Al-Tuwaijri (Saudi Arabia), and Liam Fox (UK).

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Speaking at the meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, on Wednesday, the former World Bank director said she has all it takes to become the first African and first female DG of the global trade force established in 1995.

I am a bundle of talents’

Contrary to the allegation that she is more of a public sector, she said, “WTO needs leadership and it needs someone able to bring a bundle of qualities – political ability and ability to reach decision-makers. International contacts, I have that. Managerial capability from my long years in a multilateral organisation like the World Bank. The ability to forge consensus, to negotiate, a reformer. I have an established reputation as a strong reformer both at the World Bank and also in my country. I’ve even written a book about it.

“So, I think together I bring a bundle of qualities – public sector, private sector – because you need to know how do businesses see the WTO and what needs to be done. What about micro-medium and small enterprises? Just to find out what it means to be a small-medium enterprise owner, I started one myself in Nigeria to see what are the obstacles in the way that you need to clear out.

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“So, I’m a doer. I’m solution-oriented and pragmatic. I bring together the bundle of qualities and the leadership acumen that you need to lead this. So, I would hope that if selected from the African continent, it should be me.”

READ MORE: World Bank appoints 2 Vice Presidents for newly created divisions in Sub-Saharan Africa

To critics that alleged that Okonjo-Iweala is more of a financial sector expert and inexperienced in Trade, she described such as a ‘wrong notion.’ She said:

“I am a strong believer in the role of trade and of the MTS to lift millions out of poverty and bring shared prosperity. Throughout my career as a development economist at the World Bank, I worked on tough economic policy reforms including trade policy in middle and low-income countries. As a two time and longest-serving Finance Minister in my country, I had the Customs Service reporting to me, so issues of trade facilitation and trade policy were squarely part of my remit. Together with the Trade Minister, I also worked on regional trade issues including the ECOWAS Common External Tariffs.

“I can bring a fresh pair of eyes to the WTO’s challenges. Enhancing and renewing the organization will require recalling the core objectives and principles on which the MTS was built – the value of open trade, competition and non-discrimination, security and predictability of market access, fair trade and transparency. These principles contribute to economic growth and development. I have seen how essential and powerful trade can be in promoting not only economic growth and development but also, with the right incentives and policies, fostering inclusiveness of women and youth involved in entrepreneurial activities through micro, small and middle-sized enterprises.”

READ MORE: World Bank’s IFC partners Nigerian bank to boost trade with $40 million

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On how she intends to address challenges that have eaten deep into the fabrics of the global trade body, she explained that the first hurdle to tackle would be to build trust among the membership. She said,

“Current problems are not solely of a technical nature, some require political solutions. Throughout my career, I have been involved in difficult negotiations with high political stakes including debt relief negotiations with both the Paris and London clubs. I have brokered numerous agreements that have produced win-win outcomes.

“A good example is during the 2008–2009 food crisis when large wheat exporting countries imposed export restrictions- driving up the price of bread and other wheat-based products in a large number of developing countries. As Managing Director of the World Bank, I flew to one leading exporter, met with the leadership and over several meetings and negotiations, I persuaded them to remove the export restrictions. The affected developing countries benefited by having access to wheat and wheat products thereby ensuring their food security, while the country imposing the restrictions also benefited from increased export prices.”

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READ ALSO: 5 things Buhari’s new Finance Minister must do within 100 days

Her vision for WTO

With the support from Aid for Trade initiative, her vision is to negotiate outcomes that would help developing countries, particularly the least developed countries, to increase their participation in the trading system, improve their policy environments, and ensure that trade makes a strong contribution to their sustainable development and inclusion in the MTS.

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“I want to conclude by reiterating the importance of the WTO at this critical, uncertain and challenging time in the world. The WTO is needed to ensure trade and global markets remain open. Its convening power and ability to provide a unique forum where countries can come together around shared interests is still vital,” she added.

READ ALSO: Finance Minister gives reason FG approached China for $17 billion loan

DG’s Selection process

General Council Chair, David Walker of New Zealand had informed WTO members of nominations as soon as they were received. After 8 July, Walker issued to members a consolidated list of all candidates, which led to the on-going pitch process with the members at a special General Council meeting.

In all, only time will tell if history will be made after the selection process. History can be made if Okonjo-Iweala is selected as the first female or African DG or if any of the other three African candidates are selcted.

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