The federal government has requested for the account statements of some former public office holders to 10 banks. The public officers include former President Goodluck Jonathan and his wife, Patience; former ministers of petroleum, Diezani Alison-Madueke as well as Rilwanu Lukman.
Court documents quote Abubakar Malami, the attorney-general of the federation, as saying information contained in the document will help an ongoing investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to know individuals in the Process & Industrial Developments Ltd gas deal.
Although Malami didn’t mention Jonathan as a subject of the EFCC probe; the former head of state appears alongside the ex-ministers in Nigeria’s proposed subpoenas.
“There is good reason to believe that ministers at the highest level were involved in a corrupt scheme to steal money from Nigeria,” Malami said in court filings submitted on March 24.
Nigeria’s chances of annulling the giant penalty hinge 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 P&ID could enforce an arbitration tribunal’s 2017 ruling; now totaling $9.6 billion including interest, which found the country breached the agreement.
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.
Jonathan hasn’t been informed of the application, his spokesman said. Malami didn’t respond to request for comment about the court proceedings.
Nigeria is seeking the bank documents as part of an internal investigation into the contract; and also the arbitration proceedings. The findings will form the basis of the U.K. appeal.
P&ID “had no ability or intention of ever performing” the contract; which required the company to build a gas processing plant and the government to supply it, Malami said.
Nigeria wants the U.S. court’s permission to obtain information from the banks relating to companies as well as individuals affiliated with P&ID; as well as former government officials; to aid the ongoing investigation by the EFCC.
The 10 institutions are likely to have processed U.S. dollar transactions connected to P&ID’s operations, as either correspondent banks or the New York branches of foreign lenders, the filings said.