A New York federal judge has ruled that Nigeria can subpoena 10 banks in the United States for information the country needs to prosecute government officials allegedly connected to a British Virgin Island engineering firm’s bribery scheme and subsequent $9.6bn arbitral claim, according to law360.com.
The Nigerian Government had last month asked the court to compel the banks to release account details of former President, Goodluck Jonathan, his wife, Patience, former ministers of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke and Rilwanu Lukman.
The banks listed include Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase and New York branches of Deutsche Bank AG and United Bank for Africa Plc.
Nigeria is requesting “all documents concerning any transactions to, from, or for the benefit” of Jonathan and his wife between 2009 and this day.
District Judge, Lorna Schofield, who gave the ruling, ordered the banks to allow the Nigerian Government have access to the account details to enable it prove that the $9.6bn arbitration was obtained by Process and Industrial Development by fraud.
According to court documents, the Nigerian Government is seeking the bank documents to help an ongoing investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to know individuals in the Process and Industrial Developments Ltd gas deal, especially the roles of Lukman and Alison-Madueke.
It said the 10 banks are “likely to have processed US dollar transactions connected to P&ID’s operations as either correspondent banks or the New York branches of foreign lenders”.
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 Nigerian Government said Lukman during his time as minister signed the contract while Alison-Madueke was responsible for the “flagrant mishandling” of government’s arbitration strategy until 2015.