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US court grants Nigeria govt request to access bank records of former president, Jonathan, Diezani and others

Justice Lorna Schofield, was said to have on Thursday, granted Nigeria government’s request to subpoena the 10 US banks, to obtain bank documents of persons suspected to have connection with P&ID for alleged bribery scheme and subsequent $9.6 billion arbitral claim

Nigeria, alleging fraud in the agreement leading to the award of the $9.6bn, had launched various legal actions to stop the enforcement of the judgment.

The Federal Government which alleged fraud in the contract leading to the $9.6bn award against it by a London arbitration panel in January 2017, informed the New York court of its intent to obtain the bank documents of persons suspected to have connection to P&ID to enable it to prove the alleged fraudulent activities of the British Virgin Island engineering firm.

The Law suit filings were done by Alexander Pencu, a partner of Meister Seelig & Fein LLP, attorneys for the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Abubakar Malami, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice of Nigeria.

The affected banks were listed as follows; “Citibank, N.A. (“Citibank”) , Allied Irish Banks plc (“Allied Irish”), HSBC Bank USA (“HSBC”), Standard New York, Inc. (“Standard New York”),

Others are: Deutsche Bank Trust Co. Americas (“Deutsche Bank”), J.P. Morgan Chase (“JPMorgan”), United Bank for Africa (“UBA”), Bank of Cyprus, Fortis Private Banking Singapore Limited (“Fortis”), and Standard Chartered International (USA) Ltd. (‘Standard Chartered”).

Former political office holders whose accounts are expected to be accessed by the Nigerian government include former President Goodluck Jonathan and his wife, Patience Faka Jonathan; former oil minister who is now late, Rilwanu Lukman; Diezani Alison-Madueke, a former petroleum minister during the tenure of Mr Jonathan; and Allison Amaechina Madueke; former attorney general and minister of justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke.

Others named in the subpoena are Taofiq Tijani; Grace Taiga; Mohammad Kuchazi; one Michael Quinn, who died in 2014; James Nolan; Adam Quinn; and Ibrahim Dikko.

It is also speculated that some officials of the banks might testify in the case. Nigeria’s chances of overturning the $9.6 billion arbitration award lie on proving the 2010 gas supply arrangement was a sham designed to fail by P&ID and government officials.

Although the former president Goodluck Jonathan had denied owning any bank account in United States or any foreign country, Justice Lorna Schofield, was said to have on Thursday, granted Nigeria government’s request to subpoena the 10 US banks, to obtain bank documents of persons suspected to have connection with P&ID.

New York federal judge, Lorna Schofield who granted the request asked the affected banks to allow the Nigerian government access the information they need to prove their case.

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