The Federal Republic of Nigeria and P&ID entered into a 20-year gas supply and processing agreement (GSPA) in 2010, whereby the Government agreed that it would supply natural gas (wet gas) to P&ID. In turn, P&ID agreed to process and return eighty-five per cent of the wet gas in the form of lean gas, which could be used for energy generation.
P&ID agreed to construct two or more sophisticated plants with ancillary facilities for the wet gas to be processed. This construction was, however, never carried out.
In 2012, P&ID alleged that the Federation had not fulfilled its obligations in regard to the GSPA, and claimed damages for lost profits – in the region of US$6 billion.
P&ID had however spent little to no money in preparing to fulfil its obligations. It claims to have invested US$40 million in the project, but has shown no evidence to prove this. P&ID never engaged anybody to carry out preparatory work, and nor did it hold any land at that time. It simply had no intention of carrying out its part of the GSPA.
The GSPA is, sadly, an example of officials using sham commercial deals to fraudulently divert much-needed assets from the Nigerian people.
P&ID is a shell company based in the British Virgin Islands.
It is seventy-five per cent owned by Lismore Capital Limited – an opaque entity incorporated in the Cayman Islands, about which little is known.
The remaining twenty-five per cent was recently acquired by VR Advisory Services Limited – a powerful international vulture fund. Vulture funds are a well-known type of hedge fund. They typically invest in buying the debt of the world’s poorest countries, and then take aggressive action to recover that debt.
P&ID was originally set up in 2006. It was co-founded and run by a failed music record producer from Ireland, who had no substantive experience in managing any notable infrastructure projects.
The company had no track record in the oil and gas industry, and no credentials to indicate that it would be capable of carrying out an arrangement as complex as the GSPA.
Further to that, the founders of the company were linked with a range of corrupt activities in Nigeria in the past. They also provided false evidence to the private arbitration tribunal about their prior experience in oil and gas projects.
For example, P&ID claimed its co-founders had over 30 years’ experience managing engineering projects in Nigeria, including working with Shell. This is simply not true. Shell confirmed in a formal letter that the co-founder, Michael Quinn, had no prior experience of oil and gas projects with the company – just one of many examples of the false evidence provided by P&ID to the tribunal.
The vulture-fund-backed P&ID is not a genuine commercial entity. It would never have been able to carry out its part of the GSPA.
It remains unclear exactly whose pockets the US$10 billion will land in, if this case goes in P&ID’s favour.
P&ID is seventy-five per cent owned by Lismore Capital – an opaque entity incorporated in the Cayman Islands, about which little is known.
The remaining twenty-five per cent was recently acquired by VR Advisory Services Limited – a powerful international vulture fund headed by a multi-millionaire
VR Advisory Services has purchased distressed sovereign debt in Argentina, Ukraine and Greece, seemingly with the intention of making a profit, as these vulnerable nations are forced to restructure their debt to avoid default.
The individuals managing the fund, and their associates, are now aggressively pursuing the US$10 billion for themselves.
The Federal Republic of Nigeria is committed to fighting the injustice of the multibillion dollar arbitration award, to ensure that this money goes towards Nigeria’s future – not into the pockets of millionaires trying to exploit the country.
Clear and concrete evidence of fraud was only recently discovered as a result of the Nigerian Government’s ongoing anti-corruption efforts.
This evidence proves that officials at the highest levels of the previous administration were corrupt. These officials, who were entrusted to safeguard the future and wellbeing of Nigerians, knowingly entered into the sham GSPA, and deliberately failed to defend properly the Federation in subsequent arbitration proceedings.
In particular, the standard protocols required by Nigerian law for authorising federal contracts were bypassed, demonstrating that the terms of the GSPA were deliberately withheld from the rest of the Federal Government by officials who oversaw its signing.
Unlike the previous administration, President Buhari and his cabinet has taken a firm stance against corruption.
Since he was elected, President Buhari has established several initiatives aimed at tackling fraud. This includes the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption and the Whistle Blowers Policy in 2016, as well as the National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS) 2017-2021 in 2017.
A former Minister for Petroleum Resources and his legal adviser at the time oversaw the signing of the GSPA.
The process carried out for the signing of the GPSA completely bypassed all standard protocols for authorisation, indicating that the contract was deliberately concealed from Government scrutiny. For example, due to its size the GSPA had to be authorised by both the Bureau of Public Procurement and the Federal Executive Council – however, neither were contacted.
Only two Committees were involved in reviewing P&ID’s capabilities – the Technical Committee and the Legal Committee, both of which were led by employees from the Petroleum Ministry. Neither carried out the necessary due diligence.
Personnel from both committees also received unexplained payments from companies associated with P&ID, suggesting the possibility of bribery.
The former legal adviser is currently facing an eight-count charge in Nigeria over the illegal role she played in facilitating the scam agreement. Bank statements seized by Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission have revealed that a series of payments totalling over US$20,000 were made to her offshore bank accounts, from companies associated with P&ID, while she served at the Ministry in 2010.
P&ID has acted aggressively throughout, while simultaneously failing to provide credible evidence that they were ever able to fulfil the contract.
The P&ID Facts website has been used as a further PR tool by the company to spread misinformation to media and stakeholders in the UK.
It is telling that P&ID has prioritised the dissemination of inaccurate claims in the media and online, over addressing the very real allegations of fraud made against them in Court.
US$10 billion represents a significant share of Nigeria’s GDP and national budgets. Nigeria is a developing country, with a significant proportion of its population of 200 million living in poverty.
President Buhari discussed the P&ID case at the 74th United Nations General Assembly in September 2019, alongside climate change, international security, healthcare and poverty. This highlights the significance of this case for Nigeria and its people. In that discussion, President Buhari emphasised that the Government is “giving notice to international criminal groups by the vigorous prosecution of the P&ID scam attempting to cheat Nigeria of billions of dollars.”
Nigeria is open to business – but not of this kind. The Nigerian Government has promised to make a clear example of the corrupt individuals involved in this case.
The Federation would like to send a message to other fraudulent entities that Nigeria will take corruption seriously.
Unfortunately, under previous administrations, a continuing feature of corruption in Nigeria was the involvement of Government officials at the highest levels of office. The current administration is, however, taking a firm stance against this. It has made the crackdown a top priority and is implementing vital steps in the right direction.
The Federation recognises that corruption is endemic in Nigeria. It will not shy away from bringing to justice those guilty of fraud, including current or former ministers.
The GSPA was unfortunately yet another example of senior government officials using sham commercial deals to fraudulently divert Nigerian assets to themselves.
Nigeria is open to investment and committed to driving long-term success with its business partners. As the largest economy in West Africa, the Government is working hard to diversify the economy. Most recently, the Federation has moved up the World Bank Doing Business Rankings by 15 places in the past year.
The Federal Republic of Nigeria is committed to driving long-term success with its business partners. The Federation has adopted a number of policies to encourage investment in the country. As an example, in 2016, President Buhari set up the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council, with the aim of minimising the constraints that come with running a business in the country.