April 15, 2021:
The Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN) appeared in the English High Court today for a scheduled case management conference (CMC). The CMC was held for the Court to decide certain procedural issues relating to the FRN’s ongoing challenge against the enforcement of a U$10 billion arbitration award obtained by BVI-based shell company, Process and Industrial Developments Limited (P&ID).
The fraud trial will now follow, and a timetable will be fixed in the coming weeks.
Today’s hearing follows the FRN’s major victory in September last year, when the English Court ruled that the FRN had “established a strong prima facie case” of fraud against P&ID and granted an unprecedented extension of time for the FRN to challenge the award. The judgment was delivered in the wake of new and substantive evidence uncovered by the FRN, which exposed the fraudulent and corrupt nature of activities undertaken by P&ID and its affiliates.
It is the FRN’s case that P&ID used a sophisticated web of bribery and a tissue of lies to secure the original deal – despite being grossly underqualified with no technical capabilities, few employees, and no real intention of carrying out the project. While P&ID had initially stood by its ability to perform its part of the deal, the shell company is now downplaying the relevance of such credentials.
P&ID’s precise ownership structure is unclear. It is 75% owned by Cayman-based Lismore Capital Limited. Little is known about this majority shareholder, other than the fact that it is ‘surprisingly’ owned by the lawyer who represented P&ID in the underlying arbitration, Mr Seamus Andrew, who recently took early retirement at age 53, according to his firm SCA Ontier.
The remaining 25% was initially purchased by ‘vulture fund’ VR Advisory Limited. It has only recently emerged that this stake has been transferred to another opaque entity – Process Holdings Limited – which is a wholly owned subsidiary within VR Capital’s corporate web. The exact relationship between P&ID and VR Advisory remains unclear.
P&ID’s only remaining asset today appears to be the arbitration award.
A spokesperson for the Attorney General of the Federation said:
“The CMC is another important step forward in the FRN’s fight to overturn the injustice of the US$10 billion arbitral award.
The FRN is building its case based on the facts and material evidence. P&ID’s pattern of obstructive behaviour – including the burning of files, and its attempts to limit disclosure – continues to delay our investigations across multiple jurisdictions. We continue to work with our external advisors and to date have recovered approximately 12 million documents, which will be reviewed in accordance with our legal obligations.
The award, if enforced, will have a devastating impact on Nigeria’s public finances, at a time when economic recovery following the events of 2020 remains a key priority. It will also set a dangerous precedent, where corrupt actors can exploit both developing nations and the international courts to get away with fraud.
The FRN intends to robustly defend the fraudulent claim by P&ID and protect the interest of our nation. The efforts to reverse the award are part of Nigeria’s broader anti-corruption crackdown.”