Court orders banks to block Shell’s accounts over alleged oil theft

A Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos has granted an interim Mareva injunction instructing commercial banks to restrain transactions on Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited accounts in a bid to recover the cash value of more than 16 million barrels of crude oil allegedly diverted by the oil giant from AITEO Eastern E & P Company Limited.

Justice Oluremi Omowunmi Oguntoyinbo, who gave the order, following an ex parte application in suit no FHC/L/CS/52/202 where AITEO Eastern E & P Company Limited is the plaintiff/applicants and SPDC Ltd is the first defendant.

Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Shell Western Supply and Trading Limited, Shell International Trading and Shipping Company Limited and Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Limited are second, third, fourth and fifth defendants; 20 banks where the Shell companies operate accounts in Nigeria are the respondents in the suit.

AITEO’s application was filed by Messrs Kemi Pinheiro (SAN) and Dapo Olanipekun (SAN).

Justice Oguntoyinbo directed the 20 banks to “ring-fence any cash, bonds, deposits, all forms of negotiable instruments to the value of $2.7 billion and pay all standing credits to the Shell companies up to the value into an interest-yielding account in the name of the Chief Registrar of the court.”

The CR is to “hold the funds in trust” pending the hearing of the motion and determination of the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction filed before it by AITEO.

The order followed an application by AITEO Eastern E & P against SPDC and the other defendants with the 20 lenders as respondents.

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