VR Capital, the hedge fund that bought Process & Industrial Developments (P&ID) in 2019, has admitted that the country bribed Nigerian government officials to secure victory in court.
P&ID and the Nigerian government have been locked in a lawsuit over the alleged breach of a gas processing and supply agreement by the latter.
The British Virgin Islands-registered company had in 2017 secured a $9.6 billion judgement against Nigeria over the breach of the gas supply agreement.
The sum has increased to $11 billion in the last few years due to accrued interests, but the Federal Government is hoping to overturn the ruling.
Nigeria accused P&ID founders of bribing officials of the petroleum ministry and legal counsel that represented the country in court in a bid to access sensitive materials that would aid the company’s victory in court.
In 2019, VR Capital bought the largest stake in P&ID, resulting in the involvement of the investor in the case.
Due to its knowledge of P&ID’s financial operation following the acquisition, Nigeria requested and got the court’s permission to access both companies’ documents.
But in November 2020, Nigeria was blocked from accessing the files by a New York district court, declaring the country did not have good reason to bypass the country’s mutual legal assistance treaty (MLAT) procedures with the United States.
In February last year, an appeal court in the US overturned the ruling of the New York district court, thereby, giving the Federal Government representatives access to P&ID and VR Capital’s documents.
Following the ruling, Nigeria discovered in May of the same year that VR Capital had actually informed a London court of international arbitration through a filing that P&ID indeed made unlawful payments to some of its officials.
The company said: “Regardless of whether or not these payments were made for corrupt purposes, they were unlawful. As a matter of Nigerian law, any undisclosed payments to a public official by someone seeking a government contract is prima facie unlawful.”
A report revealed on Tuesday that the payments mentioned by VR Capital were allegedly linked to two petroleum ministry officials – Grace Taiga and Taofiq Tijani.
Meanwhile, a foreign counsel to Nigeria, Mark Howard, has criticised VR Capital over its double standard on the matter.
He lamented that the company admitted in private that P&ID was involved in bribery but denied it in open court.
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