CP&ID Directors Convicted for Frauds in Nigeria
…Assets forfeited to FG
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC on September 19, 2019 secured the conviction of commercial director of Process and Industrial Developments Limited, (P&ID), Mohammed Kuchazi and the company’s director of process, Adamu Usman before Justice I. E. Ekwo of Federal High Court, sitting in Maitama, Abuja. The judge sentenced the company, incorporated in British Virgin Island to wind up in Nigeria and its properties, forfeited to the federal government.
The duo were arraigned on 11-count charges, bordering on obtaining by false pretence; dealing in petroleum products without appropriate license; money laundering and failure to register P&ID with the Special Control Unit against Money Laundering (SCUML) as required by law, amounting to economic sabotage against the Nigerian state.
One of the charges reads: “That you, Process and Industrial Development Limited, being a company, incorporated in the British Virgin Island, Michael Quinn (deceased), Brendan Cahill (at large), Neil Hitchcock (deceased), Muhammad Kuchazi and Grace Taiga on or about the 11th of January, 2010 in Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court with intent to defraud made a false statement in Paragraph 8 (g) of the Gas Supply and Processing Agreement (GSPA) to wit: the parties are aware that the 24-inch Adanga Pipeline, presently under construction from the Addax operated OML 123 directly to Calabar and due for completion in 2010 which part of the said agreement you knew to be false and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 362 (a) of the Penal Code and punishable under Section 364 of the same law.”
The defendants pleaded guilty to all the eleven count charges.
While urging the court to convict them according to their plea, the prosecuting counsel Bala S. Sanga presented to the court, statements of account, showing massive withdrawals of dollars, some running into as much as $700,000 (Seven Hundred Thousand dollars) and some of which established the violation of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, as well as the law on Advance Fee Fraud. He revealed that contrary to the impression sold by P&ID that it was established in Calabar, the Cross River capital, the company did not as much as acquire a land for an office structure.
Section 10 (1) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act 2006 states that “Where an offence under this Act which has been committed by a body corporate is proved to have been committed on the instigation or with the connivance of or attributable to any neglect on the part of a director, manager, secretary or other similar officer of the body corporate, or any person purporting to act in any such capacity, he, as well as the body corporate, where practicable, shall be deemed to have committed that offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly.”
It further provides that “Where a body corporate is convicted of an offence under this Act, the High Court may order that the body corporate shall thereupon and without any further assurance, but for such order, be wound up and all its assets and properties forfeited to the Federal Government.”
Testifying as prosecuting witness, Babangida Umar Hussaini, an operative of the EFCC proved with evidence how Kuchazi (first defendant) and Usman(second defendant) conspired and sabotaged the country’s economy by evading tax payment for a period of 10 years; an accusation the duo agreed to be true.
Counsel for the defendants, however, prayed the court to temper justice with mercy since the duo did not waste the time of the court with their immediate plea of guilt to all the charges against them.
Justice Ekwo convicted them based on all the charges levelled against them by the EFCC. He sentenced the company to wound up and its properties be forfeited to the federal government of Nigeria.
EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, on August 29, 2019 disclosed that the Commission had commenced investigation into the circumstances leading to the $8.9billion arbitral award against Nigeria by a United Kingdom court over alleged breach of gas contract agreement between it and P&ID, describing the process leading to the judgment as “day light robbery.” He vowed that the Commission will forensically investigate the transaction and bring anyone one found wanting to justice.
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Grace Taiga, Nigerian Accomplice in P&ID Scam Remanded in Prison
Justice O.A. Adeniyi of the Federal Capital Territory High Court, sitting in Apo, Abuja on Friday, September 20, 2019 remanded Mrs. Grace Taiga, a female accomplice in the multiple fraud, involving P&ID in Suleja Prison. She is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, 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.
Count One of the charge reads: “That you, Process and Industrial Developments Limited, being a company incorporated in the British Virgin Island (now a convict), Michael Quinn (deceased), Brendan Cahill (at large), Neil Hitchcock (deceased) and Grace Taiga on or about the 11th January, 2010 in Abuja, within the Jurisdiction of this honorable court, with intent to defraud made a false statement in Paragraph 8(g) of Gas Supply and Processing Agreement (GSPA) to wit: the parties are aware that the 24-inch Adanga Pipeline presently under construction from the Addax operated OML 123, directly to Calabar and due for completion in 2010 which part of the said agreement you knew to be false and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 362(a) of the Panel Code Law and punishable under Section 364 of the same law.”
Count Five of the charge reads: “That you Grace Taiga (former director, Legal Services in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources) on or about the 18th of December, 2017 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, corruptly received the sum of $10,000(Ten thousand United States Dollars) from Industrial Consultants International, through your Zenith Bank offshore Account No.5070369868 on account of the favour you already showed to Process and Industrial Developments Limited, which led to the execution of the definitive agreement entered into between the said company, incorporated and existing under laws of the British Virgin Island and the Ministry of Petroleum Resources on 11th of January , 2010 and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 8(1) (a) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2010.”
The accused pleaded not guilty to all the charges. In view of her plea, prosecution counsel, Bala Sanga prayed the court for a trial date and for the defendant to be remanded in prison custody.
Defence counsel, Ola Olanipekun SAN, however, made an oral bail application for the defendant, which Justice Adeniyi rejected, preferring that he filed a formal bail application.
Olanipekun SAN, further told the court that the defendant had been in the EFCC custody, all the while and was down with hypertension, praying that the defendant be remanded rather in the custody of the EFCC.
The prosecution counsel objected to the prayer and urged the court to discountenance the defendant’s claim of health challenges as there was no evidence or proof to it. He also objected to the prayer for the defendant to be remanded in EFCC’s custody, arguing that the matter was now in court and that the Commission’s detention facility was congested.
Justice Adeniyi adjourned the matter to September 25, 2019 for trial and remanded the defendant in the Suleja Prison.
It could be recalled that two directors of P&ID: Muhammed Kuchazi and Adamu Usman were on Thursday, September 19, 2019 convicted by a Federal High Court, Abuja, after they pleaded guilty to 11-count charges that bordered on obtaining by false pretence; dealing in petroleum products without appropriate license; tax evasion, money laundering and failure to register P&ID with EFCC’s Special Control Unit against Money Laundering (SCUML) as required by law.
The trial judge, Justice I.E. Ekwo also ordered a liquidation of the fraudulent company, while all of its assets are to be forfeited to the federal government.
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