Firms linked to Irish firm Process and Industries Developments (P&ID) withdrew $700,00 cash at once in breach of Nigeria’s financial law, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has uncovered.
Nigerian prosecutors are probing payments through Allied Irish Banks Plc to unravel who received what and how as they close in on individuals and companies behind the P&ID $9.6 billion failed contract.
The EFCC has expanded its probe into the deal by making formal requests for assistance from Irish law enforcement and the United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency.
The prosecutors said they had evidence of two bank transfers totaling $20,000 made by Dublin-based Industrial Consultants (International) Ltd.- part of the P&ID group of companies to Grace Taiga, a a former Ministry of Petroleum top official, who presided over the award of the gas plant contract.
The payments, in 2017 and 2018, were made from an Industrial Consultants account at Allied Irish Banks and were purportedly for “medical costs,” Bala Sanga, the lead prosecutor, said.
Investigators haven’t yet been able to trace the recipients of the $700,000 withdrawal, Sanga said.
The massive withdrawals were done by companies linked with the founder of P&ID, Michael Quinn and co-founder, Brendan Cahill.
The recipients of the cash, suspected to be bribe, could not be located by EFCC detectives.
A Bloomberg report quoted EFCC’s lawyer as saying: “The Nigerian anti-corruption agency’s investigators have uncovered large cash withdrawals from several companies linked to Quinn and Cahill since 2009, in breach of Nigerian money laundering regulations, according to Sanga. The largest withdrawal was for about $700,000 in cash. Investigators haven’t yet been able to trace the recipients of the money.”
Sanga also said “an Irish citizen who worked for Michael Quinn has been arrested and charged in Nigeria and he remains in custody.
He added: “P&ID co-founder Brendan Cahill and Quinn’s son Adam will in due course be charged.”
He said he would seek the extradition of both men from Ireland to Nigeria. Cahill and Quinn didn’t respond to an email seeking comment.
Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, told Bloomberg that ”the enforcement of the $9 billion cannot stand having been based on a foundation that is rooted in fraud, corruption, tax evasion and procedural circumvention.”
As the government delegation was getting set for today’s legal matter in London, there was anxiety in EFCC yesterday over a plot to remove Magu by some forces sympathetic to the P&ID firm.
It was learnt that some of the plotters wanted what a source described as “outright negotiation with P&ID” but the EFCC’s probe bungled such plans for amicable resolution of the matter.
Ahead of the legal battle, the Federal Government delegation met for hours with the foreign lawyers engaged to set aside the $9.6billion judgment.
But despite in-depth forensic investigation into the controversial contract by the EFCC, some forces are pushing for the removal of the chairman of the anti-corruption agency.
The forces have launched a fresh bid to prevail on the government to send Magu to the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies(NIPPS), Kuru.
It was gathered that they rated the EFCC’s investigation as “beyond the brief” given to Magu.
A source said: “In spite of the outcome of the forensic investigation, some powerful forces are unhappy with Magu for allowing the EFCC to go too far into the P&ID matter. Some of them had been in the vanguard of out of court settlement.
“The sympathizers of P&ID are really fighting back, they alleged Magu went “beyond the brief given to him” by exposing the untouchables behind the $9.6billion judgment.
“There are many more big men on the radar of EFCC on this judgment cash. Most beneficiaries including past top government officials, corporate players and lawyers are just uncomfortable with Magu. They want to hide under NIPPS course to get rid of Magu and stall the ongoing investigation.
“I think from the look of things, they may have their way unless President Muhammadu Buhari intervenes.”