The Nigerian government is demanding records of 60 companies and individuals from 10 banks in the United States as part of its efforts to overturn the controversial $9.6 billion P&ID fine.
Among the individuals whose bank records are being sought are a former Nigerian president, Goodluck Jonathan; his wife, Patience Jonathan; among others.
Earlier in the week, a Bloomberg report showed how Nigeria was seeking documents from banks, including Citigroup Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co., in a bid to overturn a $9.6 billion arbitration award.
Nigeria has asked a federal court in New York for permission to subpoena information about transactions involving government officials, including Mr Jonathan and his wife. The politicians were in office when the state signed a contract with Process & Industrial Developments Ltd., and later became involved in a costly dispute with the company.
“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 said in court filings 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 P&ID could enforce an arbitration tribunal’s 2017 ruling, now totaling $9.6 billion including interest, which found the country breached the agreement.
PREMIUM TIMES has now obtained a copy of the subpoena filing detailing names of the banks, the companies and the politically exposed Nigerians whose bank records are being sought.
The 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.
Mr Pencu listed the banks involved to 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”).
Details of the information being sought 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.
“YOU ARE COMMANDED to appear at the time, date, and place set forth below to testify at a deposition to be taken in this civil action. If you are an organization, you must designate one or more officers, directors, or managing agents, or designate other persons who consent to testify on your behalf about the following matters, or those set forth in an attachment,” it stated.
“You, or your representatives, must also bring with you to the deposition the following documents, electronically stored information, or objects, and must permit inspection, copying, testing, or sampling of the material…”
Similar requests were made in the case of the other banks involved.
According to the U.S. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 45 (c), (d), (e), and (g) (Effective 12/1/13), for a Trial, Hearing, or Deposition, a subpoena may command a person to attend a trial, hearing, or deposition only as, first, “within 100 miles of where the person resides, is employed, or regularly transacts business in person; or within the state where the person resides, is employed, or regularly transacts business in person, if the person is a party or a party’s officer; or is commanded to attend a trial and would not incur substantial expense.”
In terms of Command to Produce Materials or Permit Inspection, the rule states that appearance is not required. Details showed that a person commanded to produce documents, electronically stored information, or tangible things, or to permit the inspection of premises, need not appear in person at the place of production or inspection unless also commanded to appear for a deposition, hearing, or trial.
Similarly, a person commanded to produce documents or tangible things or to permit inspection may serve on the party or attorney designated in the subpoena a written objection to inspecting, copying, testing, or sampling any or all of the materials or to inspecting the premises—or to producing electronically stored information in the form or forms requested. The objection must be served before the earlier of the time specified for compliance or 14 days after the subpoena is served, with stipulated rules.
However, according to the rule, the court for the district where compliance is required—and also, after a motion is transferred, the issuing court—may hold in contempt a person who, having been served, fails without adequate excuse to obey the subpoena or an order related to it.
The companies whose bank records are needed include Process & Industrial Developments Limited; Process & Industrial Developments (Nigeria) Limited; Industrial Consultants (International) Limited; Lismore Capital Limited; VR Advisory Services Limited; VR Advisory Services (USA), LLC and VR Capital Group.
Others include Marshpearl Nigeria Limited; Kristholm Limited; Trinitron Nigeria Limited; Albion Marine Company Limited; Marshpearl Nigeria Limited; Holgate Limited; Lurgi Consults Limited; Lurgi Consults West Africa Limited; Rotary Nigeria Limited; Goidel Resources Limited and Kent Marine Limited.
Also listed in the subpoena are Ecophoenix Limited; Lir Resources Limited; Niric Nigeria Limited; Hobson Industries Limited; MICAD Project City Services Limited; Babcock Electrical Projects Limited; NWMAS Nigeria Limited; Sabiex International Limited; Robey Oil & Gas Limited; Capinero Structures Limited; Pan African Drilling Company Limited; Panceltica Nigeria Limited; Marqott Nigeria Limited; Jamisaq Development Services Limited; Dbrite Imaging Nigeria Limited; Hexing Technical Services Limited; Pinimi Limited; Primetake Limited; Armcon Limited; Defthec Limited; Marshpearl Limited and SES FTF Progress Limited; ICIL Limited; Trinity Biotech; Kore Holdings Limited; Onmipol S.A. and Eastwise Trading Limited.
Among the politically-exposed persons named in the subpoena are a former oil minister who is now late, Rilwanu Lukman; President Goodluck Jonathan and his wife, Patience Faka Jonathan; Diezani Alison-Madueke, a former petroleum minister during the tenure of Mr Jonathan; and Allison Amaechina 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.
Also listed is former attorney general and minister of justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke. The request includes “all documents concerning any transactions to, from, or for the benefit of” the aforementioned individuals and companies.
Bloomberg quoted a spokesman for P&ID as denying wrongdoing, arguing that Mr 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. Citigroup and Deutsche Bank declined to comment on the case, while JPMorgan and UBA didn’t respond to emails and calls.
In his reaction on Tuesday, Mr Jonathan said that he has no account or property abroad.
“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,” a statement, signed by Ikechukwu Eze, spokesman to Mr Jonathan, said.
“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.”
Mr Jonathan’s spokesperson said Tuesday that the efforts to check the former president’s accounts were needless because Mr Jonathan had no such accounts in the United States.
“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,” the statement said.
“We would also like to state that during his tenure as President of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan extended every courtesy to former Presidents and Heads of state, because he believed and still believes that promoting, projecting and protecting Nigeria’s sovereignty and image is the paramount duty of her government, because it is not possible to belittle Nigerians without belittling Nigeria.
“Finally, we state that the signing of the P&ID contracts preceded the Jonathan administration, and that that government gave appropriate counsel to the incoming government in the handover notes of 2015, which advice, if carried out, would have prevented the current unfortunate circumstances.”