Nigeria’s apex court, the Supreme Court will tomorrow continue its hearing in the case involving the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Union Bank of Nigeria (UBN), the minister of finance, the attorney-general of the federation (AGF) and an oil and gas company – Petro Union Oil and Gas Limited (Petro Union) over an alleged £2.550 billion fraud.
The case has raised concerns, especially within legal circles, even as some have likened it to the infamous $10 billion Process and Industrial Development (P&ID) case. The oil and gas company and its directors are pushing for a default judgement to compel the CBN, Union Bank and the other agencies of the Federal Government of Nigeria to deplete their treasuries by $15 billion over a transaction which has been viewed in various quarters as irregular.
The series of events began in 1994 when Petro Union allegedly procured a cheque from a branch of Barclays Bank in the United Kingdom (UK) with a value of £2.556 billion and presented it at one of Union Bank’s branches in Lagos, with a claim that it had a contract purportedly for the purpose of constructing some refineries and establishing a bank.
Subsequent due diligence investigations by the CBN and Union Bank at the time revealed that the cheque/bill or instrument dated 29th December, 1994, for the sum of £2.556 billion drawn in favour of Gladstone Kukoyi & Associates, was confirmed by Barclays Bank to be problematic.
In addition, Gazeaft Limited, the drawers of the bill of exchange for the sum of £2.556 billion was confirmed by Barclays Bank not to have an account with Barclays. Even more alarming, Gazeaft Limited was alleged by Barclays not to be on the list of registered companies by the Companies Registry in the UK.
Despite these findings, Petro Union and its agents maintained their claims that UBN received the sum of £2,556,000,000 on its behalf and transferred the sum of £2,159,221,318.54 to the CBN while retaining the sum of £396,778,681.46. Petro Union’s demands were then followed by court actions against the CBN and Union Bank.
The oil company was able to obtain judgement in its favour at the Federal High Court and the Court of Appeal. Both the CBN and Union Bank subsequently appealed to the appellate court to set the judgment aside.