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P&ID’s case takes fresh twist as investor admits firm bribed Nigerian officials on gas supply deal



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.

READ ALSO: Alleged $9.6bn fraud: Absence of counsel stalls trial of P&ID director

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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