Nigeria has begun an attempt to overturn the $11 billion debt awarded in favour of Process and Industrial Developments (P&ID).
In 2019, a British court gave P&ID the go-ahead to seize Nigerian assets worth $9 billion over a 2010 contract.
The company claimed it entered into an agreement with Nigeria to build a gas processing plant in Calabar, Cross River state; but that the deal collapsed because the Nigerian government did not fulfil its end of the bargain.
The award, which has been accruing interest since 2013, is now worth $11 billion.
At the proceedings in London’s high court on Monday, Mark Howard, Nigeria’s lawyer, told the court that P&ID obtained its contract “by telling repeated lies and paying bribes to officials”.
As a result, the lawyer also argued that P&ID “corrupted” Nigeria’s attorneys to obtain secret information during the arbitration.
In his written submissions, Howard added that the company paid bribes and relied on false evidence “to dupe (Nigeria), the tribunal, and this court into giving P&ID an extraordinary amount of money on the back of a campaign of bribery, corruption and deception”.
However, P&ID has maintained innocence.
The company said the gas processing agreement was “a genuine contract which P&ID genuinely wanted to perform”.
In court records, David Wolfson, P&ID attorney, claimed that Nigeria’s arbitration defeat “had nothing to do with any corruption.”
Wolfson will make opening arguments on behalf of P&ID on Tuesday.
The trial, which started today, is expected to last for eight weeks.