Friday, 20 September 2019 07:49

$9.6bn judgement debt: How P&ID defrauded Nigeria

$9.6bn judgement debt: How P&ID defrauded Nigeria
 

The Federal Government yesterday told the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja how Process and Industrial Developments Limited (P&ID) and its Nigerian affiliate, P&ID Nigeria Limited, defrauded the country and equally evaded tax.

 

This was just as the Federal Government arraigned the two firms on an 11-count charge bothering on fraud and tax evasion in respect of the contract leading to the recent controversial judgement of a British court empowering the firm to seize $9.6 billion worth of Nigerian assets.

 

The firms, through their representatives, Mohammed Kuchazi and Adamu Usman, respectively pleaded guilty to the 11-count charge when they were docked.

 

While Kuchazi was represented by his counsel, Dandison Akurunwua, Usman, who is also a lawyer, represented himself.

The court, however, ordered the forfeiture of all assets and properties to the Federal Government, as well as the winding up (closure) of the two firms.

 

The order was sequel to the conviction of the two firms.

The defendants were alleged, among others, of fraudulently claiming to have acquired land from the Cross River State Government in 2010 for the gas supply project agreement which led to the $9.6 billion judgement.

The prosecution also alleged that the defendants conspired with certain officials of Nigerian Government to commit felony to wit: dealing in petroleum product without appropriate licence and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 3(6) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act Cap M17, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 and punishable under section 1(17) of the same Act.

The defendants were also alleged of attempt to deal in petroleum products without appropriate licence and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 1(19) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act Cap M17, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 and punishable under section 1(17) of the same Act.

After the defendants pleaded guilty to the charge read to them, the court called on the EFCC investigator, Usman Babangida, to the witness box for review of facts.

This was, however, not opposed to by the defendants.

The investigator tendered documents relating to the controversial 2010 gas supply contract and EFCC’s investigation activities to the court.

The trial judge, Justice Inyang Ekwo subsequently admitted the documents as exhibits.

Also, the defendants did not object to the admissibility.

After reviewing the facts before it, the court pronounced the two firms guilty.

This was followed by an allocutus (plea for mercy) by P&ID’s counsel, Akurunwua.

He pleaded with the court to consider “the forthrightness and candour” of P&ID by pleading guilty and not wasting the time of the court in the trial.

Similarly, the second defendant aligned himself with the submission of counsel to the first defendant.

Prosecution counsel, Bala Sanga, urged the court to deliver its sentencing in line with the provision of the Money Laundering Act which stipulates the winding up of the firm as well as forfeiture of all their assets to the Federal Government.

Delivering judgement, Justice Ekwo held that the firms, having admitted to the crime, he had no option than to convict them accordingly.

Relying on provisions of section 19(2) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011, and section 10(2) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other related offences Act, 2006, the court ordered the Federal Government to wind up the two firms and confiscate all their assets in the country.

“With the facts before the court, and the plea of guilty entered by the defendants, this court is left with no option than to convict the defendants accordingly.

“Relying on Section 29(2) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011 and Section 10(2) of the Advanced Fee Fraud and other related offences Act, 2006, the court makes an order of winding up of the defendants’ firms in this matter and also an order of forfeiture of all assets and properties of the defendants to the Federal Government of Nigeria,” Justice Ekwo held.

 

It will be recalled that a British Commercial Court had, on August 16, awarded judgement in the sum of $9.6 billion against Nigeria over a failed contract between P&ID and the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources in 2010.

The charge reads in part:

*That you, Process and Industrial Developments Limited (Nigeria) being a company Incorporated in the British Virgin Island, Process and Industrial Development (Nigeria) Ltd., Michael Quinn (deceased), Neil Hitchcock (deceased), and Brendan Cahill (at large), on or about the 11th day of January 2010 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this court with intent to defraud, conspired to obtain benefit to wit: petroleum product from the Federal Government of Nigeria by falsely representing to the Federal Government of Nigeria through the Ministry of Petroleum Resources,that Process Development Ltd. was allocated land by the Cross River State Government which representation you know to be false, thereby committing an offence contrary to section 8(a) and punishable under section (1) (3) of the Advanced Fee Fraud and other Offences Act, 2006.

*That you, Process and Industrial Developments Limited, being a company incorporated in the British Virgin Island, Process and Industrial Developments (Nigeria) Limited, Michael Quinn (deceased), Neil Hitchcock (deceased) and Brendan Cahill (at large), on or about the 11th of January, 2010 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, conspired with certain officials of Nigerian Government to commit felony to wit: dealing in petroleum product without appropriate licence and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 3(6) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act Cap M17, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 and punishable under section 1(17) of the same Act.

*That you, Process and Industrial Development Limited, being a company incorporated in the British Virgin Island, Process and Industrial Developments (Nigeria) Limited, Michael Quinn (deceased), Neil Hitchcock (deceased) and Brendan Cahill (at large) between August 2006 and August, 2010 at Abuja within the Abuja Judicial Division of the Federal High Court, conspired amongst yourselves to launder proceeds of unlawful act to wit: tax evasion and you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 18 and punishable section 15(2)(b)(3) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended by Act No.1 of 2012).”

In count seven, they were accused to have, between August 2006 and December 2006, concealed the unlawful origin of the sum of N1,856,503.50 through the Guaranty Trust Bank Plc Account No: 3223250230110 operated by Process and Industrial Developments (Nigeria) Limited, when you reasonably ought to have known that the said fund formed part of the proceeds of your unlawful act to wit: tax evasion and you, thereby, committed an offence contrary to section 15(2)(a) and punishable under section 15(3) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition Act, 2011 as amended by Act No: 1 of 2012).

In count eight, the prosecution accused the defendants of concealing the sum of N3,923,237.65 and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 15(2)(a) and punishable under section 15(3) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition Act, 2011 (as amended by Act No: 1 of 2012.

In count nine, the defendants were said to have concealed the sum of N2,290, 472.50 and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 15(2)(a) and punishable under section 15(3) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011 (as amended) by Act No: 1 of 2012.

In count 10, the defendants were accused of concealing the sum of N1,414, 955.50, thereby committing an offence contrary to section 15(2)(a) and punishable under section 15(3) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011 (as amended) by Act No: 1 of 2012.

Following a British court ruling that Nigeria owed the Irish firm about $9.6 billion for violating terms of the contract, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) commenced an investigation into the contract between Nigeria and P&ID.

The contract for gas supply and processing (GSPA) was signed by the administration of late President Umaru Yar’Adua and P&ID.

The company was to build gas processing facilities around Calabar, Cross River State and the government was to supply wet gas up to 400 million standard cubic feet per day.

 

NewTelegraph

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