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Shell may cough out $3.6bn to Nigerian government

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, yesterday, dismissed the suit by Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Limited, challenging the imposing of $3.6billion fine on it by the Federal Government

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A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, yesterday, dismissed the suit by Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Limited, challenging the imposing of $3.6billion fine on it by the Federal Government.

The fine had been imposed on Shell for the Bonga oil spill.

Trial judge, Justice Mojisola Olatoregun, resolved all the issues in the defendant’s favour and dismissed the suit.
Shell sued the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency, NOSDRA, challenging its powers to impose levies or fines over oil spills.

The plaintiff prayed the court to declare that NOSDRA cannot, in the light of Section 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6 of the 1999 Constitution, validly exercise any powers under Section 5, 6, 7 and 19 of the NOSDRA Act.

Shell, through its lawyer Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, argued that the sections’ provisions encroach on judicial powers vested exclusively in the courts.

The oil giant argued that it was the Federal High Court that is vested with the jurisdiction to determine liability and to assess, impose and direct the payment of any sum as penalty, damages or compensation in connection with an incidence of oil spillage, particularly the Bonga Oil Spill of December 20, 2011.

Shell urged the court to declare that the decision leading to the imposition of $3,600,191,206.00 on by NOSDRA was in breach of its right as enshrined in Section 36, 43 and 44 of the 1999 Constitution.

It also urged the court to nullify NOSDRA’s powers to impose such levies over oil spills.

But NOSDRA, through its counsel, Mr D. A. Awosika, argued that the cause of action arose on March 25, 2015 when it served Shell with notice of sanction over the Bonga Oil Spill.

Awosika contended that Shell was enjoined to exercise its right of litigation if it felt aggrieved by the letters within three months from March 25, 2015 and not beyond.

In her May 24 judgment, a copy of which was obtained

Wednesday, Justice Olatoregun held that NOSDRA acted in line with its powers and did not violate Shell’s rights in any manner.

“I found no conflict with the duties conferred on NOSDRA by law and the power of the court to adjudicate in this matter. I find no violation of the 1999 Constitution within these sections,” the judge held.
Justice Olatoregun further held that NOSDRA’s demand letters to Shell were not in conflict with Section 44 of the 1999 Constitution.

The judge said: “The plaintiff had notice and opportunity to fair hearing. The plaintiff ought to have had recourse to the court for the determination of its civil rights and a proper adjudication on the issues if it felt its rights were infringed or about to be infringed.

“I do not find the two letters ultra vires the duties and functions of the defendant.”

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Binance in talks with Nigerian govt over executive’s detention

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Following the arrest of Binance’s head of financial crime compliance by Nigerian authorities last month, the company’s CEO said Thursday that the company was working very closely with Nigerian officials.

The trial against Tigran Gambaryan, the executive, and another Binance employee, who are accused of moving more than $35 million, had been put off until May 2 in Nigeria, the country’s anti-corruption body said on April 8.

“What I can say is we are working very closely with the Nigerian authorities to try to resolve the matter,” CEO Richard Teng said, speaking about Gambaryan’s case during the Token2049 crypto conference in Dubai.

Former executive, Nadeem Anjarwalla, a British Kenyan who works as a regional manager for Africa, escaped detention in Nigeria last month. While in Nigeria, Anjarwalla and Gambaryan were arrested by the country’s anti-corruption body, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), after arriving on February 26, after which the country banned several websites that traded cryptocurrencies.

Before they were arrested, the head of Nigeria’s central bank said that Binance was being investigated in Nigeria because of “suspicious flows” of cash through Binance Nigeria in 2023. The Securities and Trade Commission of the United States and other government agencies have susbsisting restrictions on bitcoin trade.

Besides the case brought by the EFCC, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Nigeria’s tax office, has also charged Binance and the executives with tax evasion.

Sacheendran declined to comment on the charges against the company but stressed that “This was a one-off. It’s never happened to us before”. The Binance head of regional markets told Reuters on the sidelines of the Dubai conference when asked about the detentions.

Additionally, Binance revealed on Thursday that it had obtained a license from VARA, Dubai’s regulatory body. This will enable the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange to target regular people in addition to qualified and institutional ones.

Bloomberg reported earlier Thursday, citing sources, that parts of VARA’s process to give the license included Changpeng Zhao, the founder and former CEO of Binance, giving up vote control of the Dubai unit.

“That’s pure speculation. Again, we don’t comment on media speculation… Our relationship, our dealings with regulators are confidential,” Teng told journalists.

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IMF says South Africa needs to do more to cut spending, lower debt-to-GDP ratio

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A top official from the International Monetary Fund has revealed that South Africa needs to do more to cut spending and lower its debt-to-gross domestic product ratio. The multilateral body stressed that the ratio is expected to rise from 74% in 2022 to almost 86% by 2029.

Era Dabla-Norris, deputy head of Fiscal Affairs, said that the government could cut back on transfers to state-owned businesses, make cuts to subsidies that don’t help specific companies, and make big changes to the way the economy works to boost growth.

She told a news conference that South Africa’s energy and logistics problems had to be fixed right away.

A Statista study shows that between 2023 and 2028, the South African national debt was expected to keep going up by a total of 163.3 billion U.S. dollars, or 59.99%.

The national debt is expected to hit a new high point of 435.46 billion U.S. dollars in 2028, after going up for ten years in a row. Notably, the national debt has steadily risen over the past few years.

The IMF says that the general government’s gross debt is made up of all its debts that need to be paid back with interest and/or capital at some point in the future.

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