Allegations of bribes in the millions, shady mediators and fabricated evidence characterised the UK trial that wrapped up this week, connected to the $11 billion (€10.3 billion) dispute between Nigeria and Process & Industrial Development Ltd. If Nigeria loses, a few individuals – such as two Irish businessmen, as well as hedge fund-backed VR Capital Group Ltd, two lawyers in UK and P&ID’s founder – stand to gain billions.
The trial stems from a failed 2010 gas deal between Nigeria and P&ID, a company registered in the British Virgin Islands, founded by two Irish businessmen: Michael Quinn (who died in 2015) and Brendan Carroll. The resulting arbitration generated a $6.6 billion premium for P&ID, which has now grown to more than $11 billion in interest. Hedge fund VR Capital Group Ltd, two UK lawyers, P&ID’s founder and two missing witnesses could all win billions if P&ID wins and is fully compensated.
Adam Quinn – son of Michael Quinn – and another businessman stand to make over $2 billion and nearly $1 billion, respectively, if P&ID wins.
According to Bloomberg, the outcome of this case has the potential to heavily affect Nigerian finances due to its diminished foreign reserves; an unfavourable ruling could make borrowing more expensive and override policy goals of the recently elected president, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Nigeria argued that bribery was present throughout the whole process – from the initial gas deal to securing an arbitration award worth over $11 billion with interest in 2017.
Also during the trial, P&ID’s surviving founder Cahill admitted to sending $250,000 in cash from Ireland to an official in Nigeria – again unrelated to this case.
“Nobody who sat through the factual evidence could have missed the stench of corruption,” said Mark Howard, the current lawyer for Nigeria.
However, David Wolfson – P&ID’s representative – denied these allegations and argued that it was Nigeria who fabricated evidence in order to invalidate the award.
“We completely deny that there was any corruption,” David Wolfson, P&ID’s lawyer, said on Wednesday in his closing argument.
“Nigeria came up with fabricated evidence to lay a “forensic trap” for the court to rule against the award.”
In addition to this argument, a spokesperson for P&ID stated that witnesses for Nigeria were harassed by law enforcement and no calls were made due to it not being mandatory under court rules – plus there were two key witnesses missing from trial; Adam Quinn (son of late P&ID co-founder Michael Quinn) and another businessman who stand to make billions if they succeed. Besides this witness not showing up due to mental health problems days before his deposition online, another witness absent at last minute had information related to “eye-watering sums of cash”.
“This has been a peculiarly one-sided trial,” Mr Wolfson said finally. “Having elected to make its bed without evidence, the Federal Republic of Nigeria must now lie in it.”