Alleged $9.6bn scam: How top govt. officials aided P&ID directors-EFCC Investigator

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Mr Umar Babangida, an investigator with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Tuesday, revealed how top government officials aided Process and Industrial Development (P&ID) Ltd.’s directors in the alleged $9.6 billion scam against Nigeria.

Babangida, who was the 2nd prosecution witness (PW2) in the ongoing trial of fleeing James Nolan, an Irish national, told Justice Obiora Egwuatu of a Federal High Court, Abuja in his testimony.

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The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the anti-graft agency had, in the charge marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/9/2022, sued Micad Project City Services Ltd. and Mr Nolan as 1st and 2nd defendants.

Nolan, a P&ID director who also has a British citizenship, was arraigned and granted a N100 million bail after pleaded not guilty to the 20-count charge preferred against him.

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However, after he perfected his bail conditions, he failed to appear in court for trial.

On Sept. 28, 2022, Justice Ahmed Mohammed of a sister court, where Nolan was also standing another trial, revoked the bail and issued a bench warrant for his arrest for jumping bail.

Justice Mohammed equally granted the EFCC’s request to continue his trial in absentia.

Nolan, alleged to be at large, is also standing trial in about eight other cases for his involvement in the 9.6 billion dollars controversial contract awarded to P&ID Ltd.

While being led in evidence-in-chief by EFCC’s counsel, Mr Bala Sanga before Justice Okorowo, the witness said President Muhammadu Buhari directed that an investigation be conducted by the commission into the signing of a gas supply and processing agreement between the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources and P&ID Ltd. dated Jan. 11, 2010.

“On 28th June, 2018, a letter from the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice was forwarded to EFCC conveying the directives of Mr President , Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces, Federal Republic of Nigeria, that investigation be conducted by the EFCC.

“The petition was assigned to my team and I, including Isah Suleiman Daku, Aminu Lawal, Hembafan Tortilla, and others,” he said.

According to him, we conducted the investigation by requesting documents of certified true copies (CTCs) from the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources.

“Upon receipt of the documents, which include copy of the signed gas supply and processing agreement dated 11th January, 2010; memorandum of understanding dated 22nd July, 2009; memos and other correspondence, we reviewed the documents.

“And we discovered they were signed by the late Minister of Petroleum Resources, Dr Rilwan Lukman, and was witness by late Mrs Grace Taiga, the then Director of Legal Services, Fed Ministry of Petroleum Resources.

“Late Mr Michael Quinn, an Irish citizens, signed for P&ID and witnessed by Alhaji Muhammed Kuchazi in respect of the gas supply and processing agreement. The same individuals signed in the MOU.

“Our investigation discovered that Michael Quinn was the owner and operator of P&ID Ltd which was incorporated in the British Virgin Island together with his partner, Brendan Cahill, who is also an irish citizens.

“We further discovered that they have incorporated about 30 companies registered by Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) in Nigeria.

“They also registered 20 offshore companies which they promote and operate.

“Among the 30 companies registered in Nigeria is Micad Project City Services Ltd, the 1st defendant and their representatives in Nigeria.

“In operating these companies include James Richard Nolan, the 2nd defendant in this case, who is an Irish citizen; Adam Quinn, also an Irish citizen; Lloyd Quinn, also Irish but deceased; Neil Christopher Murray, also Irish but at large; Gerald Patrick Gallagher, also known as Gerry Gallagher, is also an Irish but at large at the moment.

“They are the representatives in running and operating Micad Project City Services Ltd,” Babangida revealed.

The PW2 said they wrote to the CAC requesting for the incorporation document of the company.

“From the response from CAC, we got that the company was incorporated in 2005 with two shareholders and directors namely; James Nolan and Adam Quinn with 50 per cent equity each ,” he said

He said in March 2007, Nolan resigned as a director of Micad Project and relinquished his shares back to the company, and Lloyd Quinn and Gerry Gallagher were appointed the directors of the company.

“In April 2007, Adam Quinn also resigned as director of the company and relinquished his shares back to the company leaving Lloyd Quinn and Gerry Gallagher as directors.

“Lloyd Quinn had 99 per cent equity while Gerry Gallagher had 1 per cent equity of the company,” he said.

The witness said his team wrote to Guarantee Trust Bank (GTB) requesting for the account opening package and statement of account of Micad Project and discovered Lloyd Quinn was the sole signatory to the company’s account.

“Upon further investigation, we discovered the company had another account with Diamond Access Bank formerly Diamond Bank.

“We wrote to Access Bank Plc requesting for account opening package and statement of the account of Micad Project City Services Ltd.

“We reviewed responses from the bank and reviewed the documents and discovered that James Nolan, who had resigned as director and shareholder of the company in 2007, was a signatory to the Access Bank account.

“We also discovered Neil Murray as a signatory to the Access Bank account,” he said.

Babangida said after further review of the statement of account domicile with Access Bank Plc, the team discovered that Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) paid over N151 million into the account on May 22, 2017.

“We also discovered a payment from the account of single transaction of N50 million to Avory Chambers dated 24th of May, 2017,” he added.

He said the team confirmed through the Special Control Unit against Money Laundering (SCUML) that the company failed to comply with the confirmed that the Money Laundering and Prohibition Act, 2011 (as amended).

“From the response from SCUML, we confirmed that the company, Micad Project, in its account opening package with GTB described its business activities as real estate development company.

“That had confirmed it status as a designated non-financial institution.

“The report further stated that the conducted search into their records discovered the company failed to declared its business activities to the Federal Ministry of Industry and Trade Investment.

“We also stated that the company did not file record of its compliant officers and its management strata.

“The company also failed to train its staff on money laundering and combating illegal act.

“The company failed to establish an internal audit unit in compliance with Money Laundering and Prohibition Act and no report of threshold transaction above N5 million to an individual and N10 million to a corporate entity was made.

“The investigation revealed that the payment of over N151 million into the account of the company and N50 million out of the account of the company were not reported in compliance with Money Laundering and Prohibition Act,” he said.

The witness said the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), in the course of their investigation, revealed that the company failed to comply with the tax law.

“On the strength of that, we wrote to FIRS to confirm that the company had tax liability of over N39 million which the company failed to pay between 2008, 2009 and 2010.

“We equally wrote to FCTA (Federal Capital Territory Adminstration) to confirm the payment of the N151 million and availed us CTCs of records of terms of settlement filed as a consent judgment between Micad Project and other parties.

“We received response from the FCTA attaching the signed terms of settlement and other evidence of payment and further review that a dispute emanated between Micad Project City Services Ltd and Crome Oil Ltd which resulted in the signing of the terms of settlement,” he said.

Babangida said all the documents relating to the investigation were forwarded to the EFCC’s Forensic Department for forensic analysis.

According to him, the forensic expert will be in better position to tell the court of his findings.

Earlier, Mr Temitope Erinomo, the 2nd prosecution witness and former Principal Complaint Officer, Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment, said that the ministry carried out an off-site and on-site examinations of Micad Project City Services Ltd

Erinomo, who said this during a cross examination by the defence lawyer, Mr Michael Ajara, revealed that the off-site and on-site examinations “were carried out at the business addresses of the company but they were not present at the two addresses in Abuja and Lagos.”

“In my testimony, I said that we received a letter from the EFCC seeking to know the compliant status of Micad Project with the Money Laundering and Prohibition Act and to also furnish them with other information that will be relevant to the investigation that EFCC is carrying out,” he told the court.

Justice Egwuatu adjourned the matter until Wednesday for continuation of trial.(NAN)

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