Mourant company cleared of WestLB’s claims over Enron

Mahonia, a company administered by Jersey’s Mourant du Feu & Jeune and directed by the firm’s chairman Ian James, has been cleared of any links to disguised loans for disgraced energy giant Enron.

As part of last week’s (2 August) ruling made by Mr Justice Cooke, German bank WestLB, which made the allegations, will now have to pay both costs and a further penalty indemnity for having made the claims.

Last month, James took the witness stand at the High Court to answer WestLB’s allegations that Mahonia, a Jersey special purpose vehicle (SPV), was simply a “creature” of JPMorgan Chase, rather than an independent trading body.

WestLB was also seeking to prove that 12 transactions involving JPMorgan, Enron and Mahonia were loans, to show that the energy giant had a “larger operating income” than it professed.

Judge Cooke ruled that the transactions were in fact commodity trades, as JPMorgan had always contended. He also ruled that “Mahonia was entirely independent of Chase”, and that “Mahonia was not owned or controlled by Chase”.

Of Mahonia’s directors, including James, the judge said: “There is no doubt that the directors were free to refuse to conclude the transaction or to seek amendments to it before agreeing to participate.”

As a result of the ruling, WestLB is liable to JPMorgan for payment of a letter of credit, issued in 2001, effectively guaranteeing payment in the event of a default on the transactions by Enron.

During the trial, WestLB said it was not liable because it claimed the transactions were fraudulent.