The Federal Government has asked a court in New York, the United States of America, to compel 10 foreign banks to release to it account details of former President Goodluck Jonathan, his wife, Patience, and the then Minister of Petroleum Resources in his administration, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke.
But Jonathan on Tuesday denied owning a foreign bank account.
Bloomberg reports that the banks from whom the Federal Government is seeking the documents include, Citigroup and JPMorgan, as well as the New York branches of Deutsche Bank AG and United Bank for Africa Plc.
The Federal Government’s request was contained in an application filed at the foreign court on March 24 asking for the bank documents.
The Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami, is said to have asked for the bank documents in its bid to overturn the P&ID $9.6bn judgment.
The $9.6bn award was issued against Nigeria and in favour of P&ID in a January 31, 2017 ruling of a London arbitration tribunal, which held the Federal Government liable for the breach of a 20-year gas supply agreement signed in 2010 between P&ID and Nigeria, through the Ministry of Petroleum Resources.
The London Commercial Court in a judgment delivered on August 16, 2019 gave P&ID a go-ahead to enforce the London arbitration panel’s award of the sum of $9.6bn.
But the Federal Government is seeking to overturn the award.
According to Bloomberg, the Federal Government, is seeking the bank documents to enable it to prove that the $9.6bn arbitration was obtained by Process and Industrial Development by fraud.
The Federal Government said in the court document that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is probing the roles of two former petroleum ministers, the late Rilwanu Lukman and his successor, Alison-Madueke.
It, however, said it had yet to find “direct evidence” that Jonathan, Alison-Madueke and other politicians received payments from P&ID or its affiliates, the country said in its court filings.
But Malami stated in the court document, “There is good reason to believe that ministers at the highest level were involved in a corrupt scheme to steal money from Nigeria.”
The Federal Government said Lukman, who was then the Minister of Petroleum signed the contract while Alison-Madueke was responsible for the “flagrant mishandling” of the government’s arbitration strategy until 2015, the country said.
A spokesman for P&ID denied wrongdoing, arguing 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.
Malami’s application is “nothing but an absurdly overbroad fishing expedition,” P&ID said in an April 24 court filing.
But Jonathan has however denied having any foreign accounts whose details could be requested for.
In a statement by his spokesman, Ikechukwu Eze, the ex-President said he or his wife was not contacted before the request for the documents was filed by the Federal Government.
Eze stated, “Our attention has been drawn to international media reports to the effect that the Federal Government of Nigeria has subpoenaed bank records for former President Goodluck Jonathan, and his wife, Dame Patience Jonathan in the United States of America.
“We aver that the Federal Government of Nigeria did not contact Dr Jonathan or his wife before issuing these subpoenas. If they had, we would have advised them of the fact that you cannot subpoena what does not exist. We also remind the public that on March 5, 2014, during the swearing in of new ministers, then President Jonathan said “I am loyal to Nigeria’s economy. I don’t have accounts or property abroad.”
“We are confident in stating that between that time and now, nothing has changed with regards to Dr Goodluck Jonathan. 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.”