P&ID pleads guilty of fraud, tax evasion, to forfeit assets

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    Process and Industrial Development P&ID, that won an arbitration case of $9.7 billion against the federal government of Nigeria has pleaded guilty to fraud and tax evasion in a court in Abuja. As a result it is to forfeits its assets to the government. It will be recalled that the company was awarded more than $9 billion in an arbitration case against Nigeria. The forfeiture order was given after two men linked to the company, Process & Industrial Developments (P&ID), pleaded guilty to charges of fraud and tax evasion on the company’s behalf.

    The impact on the British Virgin Islands-based firm and its international arbitration award, now worth some 20% of Nigeria’s foreign reserves, was not immediately clear. P&ID had no immediate comment on the court ruling. Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) brought 11 individual charges against P&ID and its local subsidiary. The two men, Muhammad Kuchazi and Adamu Usman, pleaded guilty to all the charges on behalf of the company.

    The men, both Nigerians, were not personally charged and freely left the court. While Kuchazi was listed in British court documents as a representative of P&ID in 2009, it was unclear if either man was currently employed by the company. They could not immediately be reached for comment.

    The EFCC described Kuchazi as commercial director, and Usman as director of the company’s local subsidiary.

    P&ID has previously described the EFCC’s investigation as a “show trial”.

    P&ID was set up to execute a 2010 deal with the Nigerian government to build and operate a gas-processing plant in the southeastern port city of Calabar. When the deal collapsed, P&ID took the government to arbitration, eventually winning a $6.6 billion award that has been accruing interest since 2013. Last month, a judge in London said he would grant P&ID the right to convert the award to a judgment, which would allow it to seek to seize assets from the Nigerian government to collect the award. The government has said the deal was designed to fail, and called the award “an assault on every Nigerian and unfair.” With interest payments, the sum now tops $9 billion.

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