November 28, 2019 / 4:07 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 judgment, 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 criticized 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.

P&ID did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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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