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Shell’s litigation in the U.S. courts over misappropriated $1.4bn Nigerian oil

By John Donovan

Esther Kiobel, the widow of Shell Ogoni leader Dr Barinem Kiobel, spent over a decade pursuing litigation against Royal Dutch Shell in the USA courts for alleged complicity in his murder.

All of her efforts and those of her lawyers and all the evidence gathered from witnesses came to nought when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that Shell could not be sued in the in the U.S. courts for matters that happened in Nigeria.

Being a simple soul, not a lawyer, I am at a loss to understand how it is then that Shell is currently pursuing litigation against the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (“NNPC”) in the U.S. courts in relation to the sum of $1,416,932,000 (Yes, $1.4bn), plus interest and legal costs.

Here is the Petition brought by Shell and other oil giants on 26 May 2016 in the UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK. Here is the latest filing in the case yesterday 17 April 2017.

Shell can sue in the U.S. courts for activities/transactions that happened in Nigeria but is immune from legal action in the USA for its conduct in Nigeria. What’s that saying, one law for the rich and another for the poor…

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LAW360: Shell Unit’s Hunt For $1.4B Award Paused For Nigerian Courts

Law360, Washington (April 17, 2017, 5:16 PM EDT) — A New York federal judge granted a stay Monday to Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Co. and other entities seeking to confirm a $1.4 billion arbitral award against state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. until related litigation in Nigeria concludes.

The dispute arose under a 30-year production-sharing contract dating to 1993 between NNPC, SNEPCo, Esso Exploration and Production Nigeria (Deepwater) Ltd., and Total E&P Nigeria Ltd., with the petitioners initiating arbitration in 2009 over alleged misappropriation of oil by NNPC and tax disputes.

Meanwhile, Nigeria’s tax authorities…

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