November 28, 2019 / 4:15 PM / 16 days ago

Nigeria gives UK court $200 million guarantee for stay on asset seizures in P&ID case

LAGOS (Reuters) - The Nigerian government on Thursday placed a bank guarantee of $200 million with a high court in London to secure a stay on asset seizures of up to $9 billion related to a failed gas project, a spokesman for its attorney general said.

Process & Industrial Developments, a firm based in the British Virgin Islands set up solely to build a gas processing plant in Nigeria, won a $6.6 billion arbitration award after the 2010 deal collapsed. The award has been accruing interest since 2013 and is now worth more than $9 billion.

Nigeria in September successfully sought the right to appeal an August ruling that would have converted the arbitration award to a judgement, which would make it easier for P&ID to seize its assets.

Nigeria has said it would fight making any kind of payment to P&ID. The country's anti-graft unit has also charged two foreign nationals and a former petroleum ministry official with wrongdoing related to the case. P&ID has criticised the investigations as a "sham" that would "never pass muster" in other jurisdictions. [reut.rs/2QYFZvS]

Nigerian Attorney General Abubakar Malami last week said the nation was appealing a requirement that it deposit $200 million with the court in order to secure a stay on asset seizures while it challenged the August ruling.

“This variation in security, which was proposed by Nigeria as an alternative solution during a procedural hearing on 22nd November, has been accepted by the court and P&ID,” the spokesman for the attorney general said in an emailed statement.

A spokesman for P&ID said the company hoped the administration would “accept the reality of the arbitration tribunal award and the decisions of the English Court.”

The government has also expanded its legal team to include London-based law firm Mishcon de Reya. Shaistah Akhtar, a partner with the firm, will lead the legal team alongside Mark Howard QC of Brick Court Chambers, the spokesman said.

Additional reporting by Felix Onuah in Abuja; Editing by David Evans

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