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FG Writes US Court; Seeks Jonathan, Patience, Diezani’s Account Details In 10 Foreign Banks

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The Federal Government has asked a court in New York, the United States of America, to compel 10 foreign banks to release to its account details of former President Goodluck Jonathan, his wife, Patience, and the then Minister of Petroleum Resources in his administration, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke.

But Jonathan on Tuesday denied owning a foreign bank account.

Bloomberg reports that the banks from whom the Federal Government is seeking the documents include, Citigroup and JPMorgan, as well as the New York branches of Deutsche Bank AG and United Bank for Africa Plc.

The Federal Government’s request was contained in an application filed at the foreign court on March 24 asking for the bank documents.

The Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami, is said to have asked for the bank documents in its bid to overturn the P&ID $9.6bn judgment.

The $9.6bn award was issued against Nigeria and in favor of P&ID in a January 31, 2017 ruling of a London arbitration tribunal, which held the Federal Government liable for the breach of a 20-year gas supply agreement signed in 2010 between P&ID and Nigeria, through the Ministry of Petroleum Resources.

The London Commercial Court in a judgment delivered on August 16, 2019, gave P&ID a go-ahead to enforce the London arbitration panel’s award of the sum of $9.6bn.

But the Federal Government is seeking to overturn the award.

According to Bloomberg, the Federal Government is seeking the bank documents to enable it to prove that the $9.6bn arbitration was obtained by Process and Industrial Development by fraud.

The Federal Government said in the court document that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is probing the roles of two former petroleum ministers, the late Rilwanu Lukman and his successor, Alison-Madueke.

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 country said in its court filings.

But Malami stated in the court document, “There is good reason to believe that ministers at the highest level were involved in a corrupt scheme to steal money from Nigeria.”

The Federal Government said Lukman, who was then the Minister of Petroleum signed the contract while Alison-Madueke was responsible for the “flagrant mishandling” of the government’s arbitration strategy until 2015, the country said.

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.

But Jonathan has however denied having any foreign accounts whose details could be requested for.

In a statement by his spokesman, Ikechukwu Eze, the ex-President said he or his wife was not contacted before the request for the documents was filed by the Federal Government.

Eze stated, “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.

“We state 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.”

“We are confident in stating that between that time and now, nothing has changed with regards to Dr Goodluck Jonathan. 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.”

BIG STORY

JUST IN: Ebonyi Governor Tests Positive For COVID-19

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Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi, has tested positive for the novel coronavirus disease.

This was contained in a statement personally signed by him on Saturday.

Details later…

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Heritage Bank Shuts Branch For Disinfection Over Suspected Coronavirus Case

Gbemileke Ajayi

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Heritage Bank Plc said it has closed down an Experience Centre- EC (branch) at Allen Avenue; Ikeja over the “unconfirmed case” of Coronavirus for deep hygiene clean up after an employee took ill last week.

The bank in a statement made available to the press and customers noted: “in line with our emergency response plan and following regulatory practices, we have taken immediate steps to close down Allen Avenue, Ikeja Experience Centers- EC (branch) for thorough disinfection of the affected location.”

Contrary to rumour, the bank disclosed that whilst the suspected staff awaits her medical test from the Covid-19 Test Centre in Yaba, she had not exhibited any symptoms related to the virus.

“Neither of the suspected person or others in the EC had exhibited any symptoms,” the bank said in the statement.

Specifically, the bank stated that staff were advised to self-isolate for 14days forthwith which was in consonance with Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

The bank stated that the EC will undergo “thorough disinfection,” further affirmed, “Customers and staff safety remains paramount; hence we will recommence business with a new set of relief employees, as the current staff self-isolate.”

In the interim, the bank advised customers, “please visit other ECs or branches in Ikeja where you can conduct your daily transactions. Otherwise, you can use our alternate e-channels for seamless service deliveries.

“Heritage Bank remains resolute to continually serve you seamlessly despite prohibitions imposed on physical contact through our bouquet of electronic products which have been made available on notable mobile stores and our website (www.hbng.com).”

The bank noted that it would continue to intensify ongoing efforts via its intranet and other channels to keep staff and customers up-to-date with the latest COVID-19 information and provide clear direction and guidance expected of workers and customers.

“We have set up a COVID-19 Support Centre to offer COVID-19 safety tips to all our customers during this period, in support of the efforts of the Government and relevant bodies. Please send any information relating to the COVID-19 pandemic via these channels: E-mail: [email protected] and contact number: 01-2369099,” the bank stated.

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Hushpuppi Conspired To Defraud Premier League Club Of $124 Million

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United States authorities on Friday said an English Premier League club was among the victims the suspected Nigerian fraudster Igbalode Ramoni Abbas, also known as Hushpuppi, conspired to defraud.

US Department of Justice said Hushpuppi will face criminal charges, alleging he conspired to launder hundreds of millions of dollars from business email compromise (BEC) frauds and other scams, including schemes targeting a U.S. law firm, a foreign bank and an unnamed English Premier League soccer club.

“Abbas and others further conspired to launder hundreds of millions of dollars from other fraudulent schemes and computer intrusions, including one scheme to steal £100 million (approximately $124 million) from an English Premier League soccer club, the complaint alleges,” the Department of Justice said in a statement on Friday.

Abbas, popularly known as Huspuppi was arrested earlier in June along with Olalekan Jacob Ponle, also known as Woodberry and 10 others.

The 12 suspects were arrested in six simultaneous raids carried out by the e-police unit of the Dubai Police.

The gang was responsible for Dh1.6 billion (about N169 billion) fraud involving over 1.9 million victims. Items worth N15.845 billion (Dh 150 million) were also seized.

13 luxury cars worth N2. 640 billion (Dh 25 million), 21 laptops, 47 smartphones, 15 memory storage devices, 5 external hard drives, and 800, 000 emails of potential victims were also recovered from the gang.

Their arrest in an operation codenamed Fox Hunt 2 came after about four months of painstaking investigations into their activities., during which their social media activities were monitored by the highly trained police unit.

The video posted by the Dubai Media Office said their police were able to track the locations of the suspected fraudsters using their social media activities.

The Dubai Police said the Hushpuppi and his gang specialized in hacking corporate emails and then send fictitious messages to the clients of the companies whose email accounts they have hacked to redirect financial transactions and bank details to their own accounts.

“This was a challenging case, one that spanned international boundaries, traditional financial systems and the digital sphere,” said Jesse Baker, Special Agent in Charge of the United States Secret Service, Los Angles Field Office.

The DoJ affidavit alleges that Abbas and others committed a BEC scheme that defrauded a client of a New York-based law firm out of approximately $922,857 in October 2019.

DoJ said Abbas and co-conspirators allegedly tricked one of the law firm’s paralegals into wiring money intended for the client’s real estate refinancing to a bank account that was controlled by Abbas and the co-conspirators.

The Dubai Police said he and Woodberry were extradited to the United States this week to face charges of money laundering. If convicted, Hushpuppi would face a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.

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