• Monday, May 27, 2024
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Australian apex bank, firms face 1.6bn euro charges over polymer currency deal in Nigeria


The Reserve Bank of Australia and two other firms, Securency Private Limited and Innovia Films Limited, all based in Australia, may pay damages of 1.6 billion euros (N322.74 billion) to a Nigerian firm for allegedly neglecting part of a partnership deal to establish a polymer currency printing plant in Nigeria.

This follows a judgment by an Abuja High Court granting the order to the Nigerian partners, Global Secure Currency, to serve them writ of summons.

Justice Goodluck, had, in a July 2, 2014 ruling granted Benoy Berry and Global Secure Currency Limited order Nigeriato serve the writ of summons on the three Australian based firms, including Securency Private Limited, Reserve Bank of Australia and Innovia Films Limited, to appear in court and defend allegations pertaining to breach of contract agreement for the transfer of polymer technology and establishing a polymer based mint in Nigeria.

At the resumed hearing of the case, Justice Goodluck dismissed the application of the foreign firms asking the court to set aside court ex-parte order it made on February 2, 2012 against Reserve Bank of Australia based on the grounds that the order was made outside the jurisdiction of the court.

According to the plaintiff, Benoy Berry, in the terms of the agreement, the Australian apex bank had agreed, through its subsidiary, Securency, Australia, to set up a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to facilitate the transfer of polymer technology, including a pacification facility (substrate plant) in Nigeria; and that the marketing of the 1st defendant’s imported polymer products incidental to the general investment in the local market would be undertaken ahead of the establishment of local production.

While blaming the foreign partners of practising unfair business ethics which included “vicious and malicious international campaigns of misrepresentation and harassment,” Berry said the firms have “subjected Nigeria to perpetuity of import dependency and colossal hemorrhage of foreign exchange,” stating that the contract agreement stipulated a step-by-step transfer of technology leading to the establishment of polymer production facilities and polymer notes production plant in the country.”

On the strength of the contract, Berry asserted that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) awarded the first contract for the printing of polymer notes to the firms, but along the line, the Australian companies reneged on the contract terms and insisted on supplying orders and demands from polymer plants abroad, rather than set up a plant in Nigeria.

To this end, Berry and Global Secure Currency Limited approached the High Court to demand that the Austrian firms must keep to their commitment as enclosed in the agreements to produce and print polymer notes in Nigeria.

Having heard the submission on both sides, Justice Gooodluck, upheld that “upon the ex-facie examination of the plaintiff’s pleadings, this court is of the view that it validly made the order for the issuance of the writ of summons outside the jurisdiction of this court in the absence of any fact in support of the defendants contention.”
The judge further stated “that there is nothing in the plaintiff’s pleadings that could have made this court to decide Kanootherwise, than to have allowed the application.” The judge accordingly ruled that the order of the court directing the plaintiffs/applicants to issue and serve the writs of summons on the defendants outside the jurisdiction of the court is valid and subsisting.

Justice O. O. Goodluck upheld the arguments from Gloria Zakka Onen, leadcounsel for the plaintiffs from the firm of Messrs Adewole Adebayo Esq. and ruled that her order directing them to issue and serve the writ of summons on the defendants outside the jurisdiction of the court was still valid and subsists and further disallowed the Australian firms’ motion and accordingly dismissed it.