An Irish-backed company says the Nigerian government will have to “put its money where its mouth is if it wants to avoid immediate seizure of assets”.
A UK judge on Thursday gave Nigeria permission to seek to overturn a ruling that would have allowed Process & Industrial Developments (P&ID) to seek to seize more than $9.6 billion (€8.7 billion) in assets over a failed gas deal.
The judge also granted Nigeria’s request for a stay on any asset seizures while its legal challenge is pending, but ordered it to pay $200 million to the court within 60 days to ensure the stay.
The original decision on August 16th converted an arbitration award held by the firm to a legal judgment, which would allow P&ID to try to seize international assets owned by the Nigerian state.
British Virgin Islands-registered P&ID was founded by Irish investors Michael Quinn, a Dublin businessman who used to manage Twink and Dickie Rock, and Brendan Cahill, a Dublin business consultant. Mr Quinn died in 2015.
The Nigerian government knows there was no fraud and the allegations are merely political theatre
The dispute with Nigeria relates to a failed 2010 deal to develop a gas-processing plant. Nigeria now alleges the contract was won corruptly and the project was never meant to succeed. P&ID denies any wrongdoing.
“The Nigerian government’s recent media exercise to allege fraud against P&ID turned out to be a red herring,” said the company, which is 25 per cent owned by a US hedge fund manager, VR Capital.
“Indeed, the Nigerian government did not present any evidence to support attorney general [Abubakar] Malami’s ‘findings’ from his sham investigation. The Nigerian government knows there was no fraud and the allegations are merely political theatre designed to deflect attention from its own shortcomings.”
Meanwhile, Irish authorities and AIB are being drawn into the high-profile international legal dispute.
Nigerian prosecutors investigating the awarding of the 2010 gas contract said this week they would seek the extradition of two men from the Republic to Nigeria. They also said they are seeking information about funds sent to a Nigerian government lawyer that were transferred through AIB.
James Nolan, an Irish citizen who worked for Mr Quinn, has been detained in Nigeria in connection with the investigation, although it is unclear what, if anything, he is accused of doing.
P&ID co-founder Mr Cahill and Mr Quinn’s son Adam are extradition targets for Nigerian authorities, they have said.
The company has said the Nigerian investigation is a “sham” and an attempt to escape its legal obligations. Its lawyers have threatened to start seizing state assets abroad to enforce the award.
– Additional reporting: Reuters/Bloomberg