On Monday, as Nigeria’s appeal against a $11 billion damages bill got under way, its attorneys told London’s High Court that their country had been the victim of “a campaign of bribery and fraud” about a failed gas processing project.
Process & Industrial Developments (P&ID), a little-known business with headquarters 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 unsuccessful project.
That amount has since increased with interest to just over $11 billion, or around 30% of Nigeria’s foreign exchange reserves.
The West African nation claims bribes were made to senior staff members at its Ministry of Petroleum Resources to secure the 20-year contract granted to P&ID in 2010.
Additionally, it claims that P&ID bought off Nigeria’s attorneys so they would not have a strong defense when Nigeria was sued by P&ID for contract violations.
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 that P&ID truly sought to perform,” they contend.
According to court documents, Nigeria’s loss in the arbitration “had nothing to do with any corruption,” according to its attorney David Wolfson.
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