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Supreme court to hear suit on £2.5bn judgement awarded against Nigeria Monday

Supreme court to hear suit on £2.5bn judgement awarded against Nigeria Monday
July 04
19:00 2021

The supreme court will hear a case involving the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Union Bank of Nigeria (UBN) and Petro Union Oil & Gas Company Limited over an alleged £2.556 billion fraud.

Apart from the supreme court hearing slated for Monday, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had also instituted criminal charges against officials of Petro Union at the federal high court.

According to the EFCC, the case is an attempt to defraud Nigeria and the Union Bank of Nigeria (UBN), similar to the recent $10 billion Process & Industrial Development Limited (P&ID) case.

The Petro Union saga started in 1994 when its directors included Prince Isaac Okpala (now dead), and his wife issued a cheque, dated December 29, 1994, for £2,556,000,000 to establish three refineries in Nigeria.

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The cheque, issued in favour of their consultants, Gladstone Kukoyi and Associates, was drawn on the Barclays Bank account of Gazeaft Ltd.

The Okpalas were also directors of the UK-registered Gazeaft.

According to the court papers, Gladstone Kukoyi and Associates lodged the cheque with Union Bank. The bank then asked its London branch to confirm it, as was the formality, only to be told that Gazeaft Ltd had closed that account since 1989 — five years before the cheque was issued. Union Bank said it notified the CBN about the suspicious cheque and that the central bank did its own checks and confirmed that Gazeaft’s UK account had indeed been closed since 1989.

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In 2005, Petro Union petitioned the EFCC against Union Bank and CBN for not honouring the instrument. The anti-graft agency asked Union Bank to return the cheque, after which it was handed back to Petro Union.

By 2012, the company filed a suit at the federal high court, Abuja, asking to be paid £2.556 billion by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Union Bank, the minister of finance and the attorney-general of the federation.

It premised its arguments on an allegation that CBN received the sum of £2,159,221,318.54 while Union bank retained £396,778,681.46 as commission.

Allegations that both parties have countered.

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Petro Union won the case at the lower court, and the appeal court also reaffirmed the high court’s decision.

But CBN and Union bank had since filed an appeal before the apex court.

They are accusing Petro Union of obtaining the two judgments based on facts that were not only predicated on falsehood but have criminal implications.

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