A United States court has granted Nigeria permission to investigate bank transactions involving former President Goodluck Jonathan, his wife Patience, former Petroleum Resources Minister Diezani Allison-Madueke and other top government officials.
These politicians were in office when the country signed a contract with a company, Process and Industrial Development Limited, which has become a source of dispute.
The New York Federal Court’s ruling followed the Federal Government’s application to it for official access to the bank’s records on the former president and his erstwhile petroleum minister.
”There is good reason to believe that ministers at the highest level were involved in a corrupt scheme to steal money from Nigeria,” Attorney-General Abubakar Malami stated in his application to the court submitted on March 24.
Nigeria’s chances of annulling the giant penalty lie on proving the 2010 gas supply arrangement was a sham designed to fail by P&ID and government officials.
The saga became a full-blown crisis for Nigeria last August when a U.K. judge ruled that P&ID could enforce an arbitration tribunal’s 2017 ruling, now totaling $9.6 billion including interest, which found the country breached the agreement.
The applications were made by Alexander Pencu, a partner of Meister Seelig & Fein LLP, attorneys for the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Malami.
Details of the information being sought by the Federal Government are meant for use in “ongoing foreign criminal investigations and criminal proceedings in the Federal Republic of Nigeria (the “Nigerian Proceedings”),” the filing, dated March 25, reads in part.
“The requested discovery will assist applicants in the Nigerian Proceedings to investigate and prosecute individuals and entities that participated in, and were enriched by, P&ID’s fraudulent scheme,” it added.
In the testimony of the subpoena filing addressed to Citibank, for instance, the applicant sought the intervention of the bank or any of its officers to testify in the case.
The politically-exposed persons named in the subpoena are former oil minister late Rilwanu Lukman; Dr Jonathan and his wife, Patience; and Allison-Madueke.
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.
Former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke.
In its report last month, Bloomberg quoted a spokesman for P&ID as denying wrongdoing, adding that Malami has “manufactured a claim of fraud and bribery” to evade the state’s legal obligation to pay what amounts to about 30% of the country’s foreign reserves. Some of the banks declined to comment on the case.
Dr. Jonathan said that he has no account or property abroad.
“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,” he said in a statement by his spokesman Ikechukwu Eze.