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The Nigerian gas deal, the Irish impresario and the £8bn ruling amid claims of bribery

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theguardian.com

It has been described as one of the most extraordinary cases ever to come before the high court, involving an Irish impresario, an alleged $50,000 bribe stuffed into a bag and potentially one of the biggest payouts in legal history.The saga of two Irish businessmen, Michael Quinn and Brendan Cahill, who promised to revolutionise Nigeria’s energy sector, will be at the centre of a high court trial early next year.It is claimed the two men’s hopes of a 20-year project to provide plentiful supplies of electricity for the country were dashed when Nigeria failed to build the required infrastructure.The arbitration courts in London later awarded the small offshore firm set up by the two men for the project an award now worth £8.3bn because it was claimed Nigeria effectively reneged on the deal.The huge award for the gas company, Process & Industrial Developments (P&ID), is more than 10 times Nigeria’s national health budget.

The country’s government is now seeking for the award to be overturned.The case has become a cause célèbre in Nigeria where officials now allege the gas deal was corruptly procured and the subsequent arbitration proceedings were “tainted” by claims of collusion.Helen Taylor, a legal researcher at the charity and campaign group, Spotlight on Corruption, said: “What is so extraordinary about this case is the allegation that P&ID not only procured the gas contract through bribery, but then used sham arbitration proceedings to cash out the proceeds.“Whatever its outcome, the case raises serious questions about whether the secrecy of arbitration can be abused to shield corporate criminality from public scrutiny.”A high court judge permitted Nigeria an extension of time to challenge the award in September 2020

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