Henry Ojelu – Abuja
A human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN ), has said the conviction of P&ID for money laundering and tax evasion by the Federal High Court, Abuja, would substantially help the Federal Government wriggle out of the $N9.6billion London court’s judgment.
The court had on Thursday ordered the federal government to seize all assets belonging to P&ID Limited, Virgin Island and its Nigerian affiliate, P&ID Nigeria Limited.
Speaking on the judgment, Falana said: “Once the judgment obtained from Abuja High Court is registered abroad, it can be executed against P&ID. The judgment substantially appears to be a perfect solution to the London Court ‘s judgment. What Nigeria has to do now, is to quickly apply to have that judgment set aside on the basis of monumental fraud.
“The company has admitted and pleaded guilty to allegation of fraud. They have admitted that they did not even acquire any land in Calabar for the project in the first place. This is an admission that the entire project was a package of fraud abinitio. This, however, doesn’t exclude Nigeria’s criminal negligence.”
The two firms were found guilty on the 11-count charge of tax evasion and money laundering brought against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and convicted accordingly by the court.
The firms were linked to the controversial gas supply contract that led to a British Court’s judgement ordering the seizure of Nigeria’s foreign assets worth $9.6billion. The companies had through their representatives, pleaded guilty to the charges brought against them by the EFCC.
While P&ID Ltd, Virgin Island was represented by its Commercial Director, Mohammad Kuchazi, P&ID Nigeria Limited was represented by a lawyer, Adamu Usman.
According to the EFCC, the firms fraudulently claimed to have acquired land from the Cross River State Government in 2010 for the gas supply project agreement that resulted in the $9.6bn judgment debt.
In his judgment, Justice Inyang 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.