By Camillus Eboh
ABUJA (Reuters) – Nigeria’s anti-fraud office on Monday charged two Britons in the capital, Abuja, for alleged money laundering in connection with an ill-fated gas deal that has left the government facing a disputed bill of more than $9 billion.
James Richard Nolan and Adam Quinn pleaded not guilty in an Abuja court to 16 counts of money laundering put forward by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The judge remanded Nolan in prison until his application for bail is considered. Quinn is at large and Nolan’s defence lawyer entered a plea on his behalf.
The EFCC said in a statement that the two men were directors of two companies that the agency alleged failed to report to the anti-graft agency a single deposit of $125,000 into a local account and also failed to comply with local requirements to declare their activities to the trade and investment ministry.
The charges relate to a 2010 contract with British Virgin Islands-based firm Process and Industrial Developments (P&ID) to build and operate a gas-processing plant in the southeastern port city of Calabar.
P&ID took Nigeria’s government to international arbitration after the deal’s collapse, eventually winning a $6.6 billion award. It has been accruing interest since 2013 and is now worth more than $9 billion.
The government has said the deal was designed to fail and called the award “an assault on every Nigerian and unfair.” P&ID said the EFCC had harassed, intimidated and denied due process to individuals associated with the company and the contract.
The EFCC has also charged a former petroleum ministry official with accepting bribes and failing to follow protocol.
The trial of the two Britons is scheduled for Nov. 20 and 21.
(Reporting by Camillus Eboh; Writing by Chijioke Ohuocha; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)