Nigeria’s $11 billion damages bill for collapsed gas deal thrown out by London court

LONDON (Reuters) -Nigeria is off the hook for an $11 billion damages bill over a collapsed gas processing project that was procured by bribery after the award was thrown out by London’s High Court.

The West African country faced having to pay the sum – representing around a third of its foreign exchange reserves – to Process & Industrial Developments (P&ID), a company based in the British Virgin Islands.

But the High Court ruled in October that P&ID paid bribes to a Nigerian oil ministry official in connection with the gas contract signed in 2010, and failed to disclose this when it took Nigeria to arbitration over the collapse of the deal.

The ruling was a major boost for Africa’s biggest economy, which is saddled with mounting debt, high inflation and unemployment, and was described by Nigerian President Bola Tinubu as a blow against economic malpractice and the exploitation of Africa.

P&ID argued that the case should be sent back to arbitration, but Judge Robin Knowles ruled on Thursday that the award should be thrown out immediately.

The judge also refused P&ID permission to appeal, effectively ending the case as the company cannot apply for permission from the Court of Appeal.

A London-based spokesperson for the Nigerian government said the decision “marks the conclusion of a historic victory for the people of Nigeria”.

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

(Reporting by Sam TobinEditing by Kate Holton and Mark Potter)