British Court Dismisses P&ID $11 Billion Damages Against Nigeria

P&ID had little or nothing to show as track record of work executed in the gas sector to merit a project of that scale.

Nigeria on Wednesday got a hard-won relief from a thorny lawsuit against it by Process and Industrial Developments (P&ID), a company registered in the British Virgin Islands.

The case had ground on for more than a decade and would have wiped out about one-third of Nigeria’s foreign reserves if victory had gone the way of the company.

P&ID, founded by Irish businessmen Michael Quinn and Brendan Cahill, had its bid to exact $11 billion in damages from the country over a controversial gas contract dismissed by London’s High Court Wednesday.

The bid was dismissed because, among other grounds, awarding the contract had been tainted by bribery and fraud.

The court refused P&ID’s permission to appeal against the decison.

In August 2012, P&ID had taken Nigeria to arbitration in relation to a contract it signed two years before with the petroleum ministry to construct and operate a gas processing facility.

Its contention was that the country had not met its obligations under the contract terms, causing it to stall.

But the circumstances surrounding the contract were questionable. The contract was the product of a proposal the Nigerian government never asked for but which P&ID made to it. There was no tender conducted.

P&ID also seemingly had little or nothing to show as track record of work executed in the gas sector to merit a project of that scale requiring such a princely sum to deliver it. It is best known as an offshore company with no assets, having few staffers and no website to speak of.

In 2017, it received an arbitration award in the sum of $6.6 billion to compensate for lost profit from the contract which would have run for 20 years. Accrued interest would later push the damages to $11 billion.

Nigeria succeeded in its quest to turn the tables on the company this October when the court granted its prayer to reverse the award.

Justice Robin Knowles ruled that P&ID officials paid bribes to employees of Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources to obtain the contract, a fact the company concealed from the arbitration tribunal until further scrutiny brought it to light.

Grace Taiga, a one-time director of legal services at the ministry who had been at the centre of bribery allegations, died in September.

“Mr Michael Quinn in his witness statement of 14 February 2014 (said) that he was “explain[ing] how the GSPA came about” when he did not do that because he did not mention that Mrs Grace Taiga had been paid a US$5,000 bribe at the end of December 2009 and a £5,000 bribe on 29 March 2010,” Mr Knowles said in his judgement on Wednesday.

GSPA is the abbreviation for the controversial gas supply and processing agreement.

“P&ID’s continued bribery or corrupt payment of Mrs Grace Taiga directed to the arbitration period in order to suppress from the Tribunal and Nigeria the fact that she had been bribed when the GSPA came about. This continued bribery or corrupt payment is fairly described by Nigeria as bribery “to keep her ‘on-side’, and to buy her silence about the earlier bribery,” he added.

The judge went further to say P&ID wrongfully held on to Nigeria’s Internal Legal Documents it got in the course of arbitration to closely observe whether Nigeria had found out “the deception being practised by P&ID on the Tribunal and on Nigeria as a party before the Tribunal.”

The high point of the ruling was the decision to brush aside P&ID’s leave to appeal the court’s verdict under section 68 (4) of the Arbitration Act, allowing the dust to settle on the prolonged legal battle


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