U.S Judge Grants FG’s Request To Access Bank Records Of Goodluck Jonathan, Diezani & Others
A New York federal judge has ruled that Nigeria can subpoena 10 banks in the United States for information needed to prosecute government officials allegedly connected to a British Virgin Island engineering firm’s alleged bribery scheme and a $9.6 billion arbitral claim.
The requests were filed 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, Premium Times reports.
In September 2019, a UK court awarded $9.6 billion against Nigeria in favour of Process and Industrial Developments Ltd (P&ID).
In a bid to overturn the $9.6 billion arbitration award, the request was filed which will enable the Federal Government prove its claim that the $9.6 billion arbitration was obtained by Process and Industrial Development (P&ID) through fraud. This became a full-blown fraud probe for Nigeria.
According to Pencu, the banks involved include;
Citibank, N.A. (“Citibank”) , Allied Irish Banks plc (“Allied Irish”), HSBC Bank USA (“HSBC”), Standard New York, Inc. (“Standard New York”), 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”).
District Judge Lorna Schofield, who gave the ruling, ordered the banks to allow the Federal Government have access to all account details of officials listed in its subpoena request.
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.
The politicians listed above were all in office when the country signed a contract with P&ID and later became involved in a finance dispute with the company.
Attorney General Abubakar Malami in court filings submitted on March 24 said;
There is good reason to believe that ministers at the highest level were involved in a corrupt scheme to steal money from Nigeria.
In his reaction to the development, Ikechukwu Eze, spokesman of Goodluck Jonathan, said;
He has no accounts in the United States of America, and encourages US authorities to cooperate fully with the Federal Government of Nigeria’s subpoena.