The Supreme Court will tomorrow begin hearing on the appeal filed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Union Bank of Nigeria (UBN) against Petro Union Oil and Gas Company Limited (Petro Union) over an alleged £2.556 billion fraud attempt.
This is even as the directors of Petro Union will on Wednesday also face criminal charges at the Federal High Court in Lagos on the same matter, which has been established by the EFCC as an attempt to defraud CBN, UBN and indeed, the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The case has garnered public attention, especially because the alleged attempt by Petro Union to swindle the CBN and UBN of £2.556 billion is strikingly similar to the P&ID directors’ efforts to defraud Nigeria of $10billion.
The appeal at the Supreme Court is coming shortly after Nigerians eulogised a United Kingdom (UK) court for delivering impartial judgement in Nigeria’s favour in the highly publicized P&ID $10 billion arbitration claim.
Prior to the UK judgement being delivered, there was apprehension in Nigeria that the UK Court could favour the claimant (P&ID), a European company, which had also corralled the support of some highly placed Nigerian government officials and lawyers who worked against the best interest of Nigeria in deliberately failing to put forward a good defence for Nigeria for pecuniary gains.
These fears were however laid to rest when the UK Court in its wisdom, having reviewed the case on its merit, delivered justice in the matter and awarded more than £1.5 million in favour of Nigeria.
The matter began in 1994 when
Petro Union’s allegedly fraudulently procured a cheque from a branch of Barclays Bank in the UK with a value of £2.556 billion and presented it at one of Union Bank’s branches in Lagos, under the pretext that it was meant to construct three petro- chemical refinery complexes in Nige- ria and establish a bank.
While the required due diligence investigations were being carried out, one Mr. Okpala, the Managing Director of Petro Union, allegedly inundated the Bank and the CBN with visits and demands for the re- lease of the cheque.
Eventually, both the CBN and Union Bank advised Petro Union that Barclays Bank in the UK had been contacted and it confirmed that the cheque could not be given value to because the company that purportedly issued the cheque dated 29 December 1994 (a company, known as Gazeaft Limited) did not exist on the Register of Companies in the UK.