How two Irish businessmen almost took over Nigeria for $11 billion
The next step was to develop a proposal for the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, the department that oversees Nigeria’s large fossil fuel reserves. P.&ID. It will build the $500 million facility. Nigeria will pump wet gas at no cost to the company. Then P.&ID. It will process it and release the lean gas into the country for free. But in exchange, the company will keep valuable byproducts of the gas recovery process, such as propane and butane, which it can sell at a profit. If Nigeria backs out at any time before the expiration of the 20-year contract, it could be held liable for damages. All in all, it seemed like a massive commitment for Nigeria, one that may be met with skepticism when it finally meets the eyes of the ministry’s lawyers.
Around this time, a lawyer named Grace Taiga got a new job at the Ministry, as Legal Director. This was fortunate, because Quinn and Cahill had known Taiga for years, from when she was in the Department of Defense and they were businessmen who sometimes won contracts from her. For about a year before filing for P.&I.D., Quinn and Cahill sent Tyga and one of her daughters just over $25,000 in additional payments. Quinn also took Taiga’s colleague, a ministry employee named Tawfiq Tijani, to dinner at Chopsticks, a Chinese restaurant in Abuja. The cost of this dinner was recorded in the accounting books as $2,800. (Chinese dinner doesn’t cost $2,800 in Abuja.) Then, shortly before signing the contract, Cahill sent another $5,000 from a bank in Cyprus to Tyga’s daughter’s account, which was coded as a “commission payment.”
Taiga sent the contract to its boss, Rilwano Lukman, Minister of Petroleum Resources. It wasn’t much: 20 pages of mostly boilerplate, written on ministry stationery with green borders. It was more like an outline than a completed proposal for a multi-million dollar gas deal. But Taiga assured Lukaman in a note that it would be a “leap forward” for Nigeria. On January 11, 2010, Luqman, Queen and Tyga signed their names. The deal is done.
Days later, a man named Neil Hitchcock — P.&I.D.’s only full-time employee — wrote to Cahill, saying he needed $1.5 million to begin preparing ground for the facility. But P.&ID. He didn’t have $1.5 million. The plan was to raise capital for the project based on a signed 20-year contract, then bring in engineers and workers. This is the way they have always worked in Nigeria.
In June, Quinn opened his morning newspaper with an unwelcome development. The oil exploration company, which had promised to supply wet gas to Nigeria, decided to keep it; It turns out that the gas is useful for maintaining pressure inside wells. Quinn may have picked up the phone and protested to his friends within the government, but most of them were gone. A new president has recently taken office. Luqman was replaced. In February 2011, Hitchcock sent a text message indicating that the company was in dire straits. “In light of the rapidly deteriorating situation here, I see no choice but to liquidate certain P.&I.D. operations and assets,” he wrote. “With your approval, I propose to sell the Honda Civic.” Quinn emailed the new president, Goodluck Jonathan, but his appeal He didn’t go anywhere.