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Business News of Friday, 12 November 2021

Source: www.sunnewsonline.com

Petro Union $15bn criminal hearing resumes Monday

Photo of Federal High Court in Lagos Photo of Federal High Court in Lagos

The ongoing high-level criminal trial of the alleged Petro Union fraud case is set to resume on Monday, November 15 at a Federal High Court in Lagos. 

According to the hearing notice issued recently by the court, the trial court will conduct the matter exclusively over two days in the first instance.

The case, which kicked off in March 2020, was filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against Petro Union Oil and Gas Limited (Petro Union), its financial consultant and four of its directors – Abayomi Kukoyi (trading under the name of Gladstone Kukoyi & Associates), Prince Kingsley Okpala, Prince Chidi Okpalaeze and Prince Emmanuel Okpalaeze. 

The defendants, alongside the firm, are facing a 13- count charge on sundry criminal counts bordering on conspiracy, obtaining by false pretences, forgery, and fraud proffered against them by the anti-graft agency on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria.

Previous hearings have revealed what appeared to be a blatant attempt by the accused persons to use Nigeria’s justice system to perpetuate and validate corrupt practices.

Testimonies from key witnesses for the prosecution have further exposed how the company and its directors allegedly plotted and conspired to defraud the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. So far, eight witnesses have testified before the court, including a former minister of Finance, a senior officer of the CBN and an ex-Union Bank UK staff.

In her testimony, Senator Nenadi Usman, who served as Minister of State for Finance and later, substantive Minister, said a letter came to the Office of the Minister of Finance from Petro Union in February 2007. According to her, the letter requested the mandate of the Ministry of Finance for the CBN to approve the investment of funds into Nigeria. Subsequently, the letter went to the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, who, in turn, sent it to the Home Finance Department for advice.

The Ministry concluded that what was required is for the Ministry to remind the Petro Union that the CBN does not require the mandate of Minister of Finance before such foreign capital can be imported to Nigeria because it is not public funds.