• Wednesday, June 12, 2024
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Supreme Court permits Union Bank to prosecute appeal on merit in $15bn Petro Union fraud case

Supreme Court sets Friday for judgments in Lagos, Kano, 5 other governorship disputes

The Supreme Court of Nigeria has granted the application of Union Bank to appeal on merits, a previous Court of Appeal judgement which upheld a Federal High Court judgment against the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Union Bank, Minister of Finance and the Attorney-General of the Federation.

The Federal High Court had, in 2014 awarded the sum of £2.550 billion with 15percent interest per annum to Petro Union Oil and Gas Company Limited (Petro Union).

The case, which drew the attention of many Nigerians, has been likened to the infamous $10 billion Process and Industrial Development (P&ID) matter, as Petro Union and its directors had sought to compel the CBN, Union Bank and the other agencies of the Federal Government of Nigeria to deplete the nation’s treasury to the tune of $15 billion over a transaction that appears to be entirely fictitious and fraudulent.

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The Apex Court, in a lead ruling delivered by Justice Adamu Jauro to which other Justices on the panel (Justices Dattijo-Muhammad; Cyril Nweze; Uwani Abba-Aji; Helen Ogunwunmiju) concurred, dismissed the Preliminary Objection filed by Petro Union, the beneficiary of the £2.550 billion judgment and granted Union Bank permission to appeal against the judgment of the lower court. Union Bank was given 30 days after the appeal is entered to file its brief of arguments.

The Court dismissed the Preliminary Objection on the basis that the previous Ruling of the Court on December 16, 2018 was not on the merits.

The series of strange events began in 1994, when Petro Union 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, with a claim that it planned to construct some refineries and establish a bank.

Union Bank subsequently turned the cheque over to the relevant authorities, and Petro Union in turn filed a lawsuit at the Federal High Court in a bid to compel the CBN, Union Bank, Minister of Finance and the Attorney-General of the Federation to honour the cheque.

The Court, against all known legal principles relating to banker-customer relationships and the clearing of a bill of exchange, upheld all Petro Union’s claims without question or interrogation and gave judgment to the company against the CBN, Union Bank, Minister of Finance and Attorney-General of the Federation jointly and severally.