FG wants the London court to reverse $11 billion in damages
As the nation’s appeal against a $11 billion damages bill began, Nigeria’s attorneys told London’s High Court that the government had been the victim of “a campaign of bribery and fraud” regarding a failed gas processing project.
According to Reuters, Process & Industrial Developments, a small business based in the British Virgin Islands, was given $6.6 billion in damages by a London arbitration panel in 2017 for lost earnings resulting from the failed project.
That amount, after interest, has increased to little over $11 billion, or almost 30% of Nigeria’s foreign exchange reserves.
The West African country alleges that the 20-year contract awarded to P&ID in 2010 was procured by bribes paid to senior officials at its Ministry of Petroleum Resources.
It also alleges that, when P&ID took Nigeria to arbitration for breaching the contract, P&ID bribed Nigeria’s legal representatives, who then did not properly defend the case.
P&ID contends that Nigeria broke the contract and is entitled to have the tribunal’s verdict enforced. P&ID has denied paying bribes to obtain the contract and that it conspired with Nigeria’s legal team throughout the arbitration in written submissions to the court.
Nigeria’s attorney, Mark Howard, claimed at the beginning of an eight-week trial that P&ID secured its contract “by telling repeated lies and paying bribes to officials” and “corrupted” Nigeria’s attorneys to gain secret information during the arbitration.
A strategy of bribery, deceit, and deception was used by P&ID, Howard continued in court records, “to fool (Nigeria), the tribunal, and this court into granting P&ID an unusual sum of money.”
The gas processing deal, according to P&ID, was “a legitimate contract which P&ID genuinely sought to perform,” they contend.