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HomeMetroHow Two Irish Businessmen Almost Took Nigeria For $11 Billion

How Two Irish Businessmen Almost Took Nigeria For $11 Billion

The tale of Michael Quinn and Brendan Cahill, an Irish oil-and-gas duo, unfolds like many financial sagas—starting simple but spiraling into chaos. Operating in Nigeria since the ’70s, initially in modest energy and defense ventures, the partners identified a significant opportunity in the mid-2000s.

According to New York Times, Nigeria’s gas-burning refineries prompted their proposal for a “gas leaning” plant, converting wasted gas into usable energy.

Establishing a new company, Process and Industrial Developments Ltd. (P.&I.D.), with a discreet base in the British Virgin Islands, Quinn and Cahill devised a plan.

The $500 million facility would process wet gas at no cost to Nigeria, producing lean gas for the grid. P.&I.D. would retain valuable byproducts for profit, while Nigeria would face damages if it withdrew before the 20-year contract’s end.

The two of them, familiar with Grace Taiga from the Ministry of Defense, facilitated the proposal’s journey with undisclosed payments exceeding $25,000 and a questionable $2,800 dinner. Taiga, now legal director at the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, pushed the contract to her boss, Rilwanu Lukman, who signed it on January 11, 2010.

However, setbacks emerged. The promised wet gas supply was retracted, causing financial strain on P.&I.D. Quinn’s appeal to the new president, at that time, Goodluck Jonathan, went unanswered. Unfazed by the absence of groundwork, the contract triggered international arbitration in London, a clause that would prove pivotal.

International arbitration, a discreet global mechanism, operates outside traditional courts. In the case of P.&I.D., the process yielded a surprising outcome—the Nigerian government owing $6.6 billion in damages.

While arbitration is a common practice in global commerce, its lack of transparency in disputes involving public funds raises concerns about potential corruption concealment.

The P.&I.D. affair, had it been in court, could have been public, allowing scrutiny and highlighting potential issues. However, the secrecy of arbitration can facilitate corruption hiding. In a closed session in 2015, Lord Leonard Hoffman presided over a panel that found against Nigeria, unaware of the undisclosed payments to Taiga.

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