The Nigerian Federal Government has discovered unknown payments given to Vera Tiaga the daughter of a Nigerian official Grace Tiaga.
A lawyer to the FG had made this known to a court on Monday, July 13, in its latest attempt to overturn an arbitration award against it worth which was close to $10 billion.
The Process & Industrial Developments (P&ID), a firm set up to carry out a gas project in Nigeria, had won a $6.6 billion arbitration award after the 2010 deal collapsed. The award has been accruing interest since 2013 and is now worth nearly $10 billion.
However, Nigeria is seeking permission in the English courts to appeal the award which was granted in 2017, despite missing the 28-day appeal deadline, stating that the new information had come to light only in late 2019.
In an online court hearing, the Nigerian government’s lawyer states that it has the evidence of payments which was made from the companies related to P&ID and to Vera Taiga, 11 days before the deal was signed.
Grace Taiga, was the chief lawyer for the Petroleum Ministry at the time. The government said one payment of $4,969.50 was made on Dec. 30 2009, and a second of $5,000 on Jan. 31 2012. The payments came to light following a U.S. discovery order in New York, it said. The government also said P&ID officials, and companies linked to it, paid several other officials in relation to the deal.
In 2019, Grace had been charged by the EFCC on accounts of accepting bribes and failing to follow protocol related to the contract. According to EFCC,
“Mrs.Taiga, a former director, Legal Services in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources was a key actor in the fraudulent Gas Supply and Processing Agreement (GSPA) between the federal government and P&ID. She is alleged to have used her position to administer undue favours to the company.
“She was arraigned on an eight-count amended charges, bordering on accepting bribes and other related crimes.”
She however pleaded not guilty and awaits trial.