London-based Indian industrialist, Pramod Mittal, in a move to salvage his financial crisis, intends to utilize the $446 million settlement from Nigeria to clear his personal debts, a Bloomberg report confirmed on Friday.
“Settling the debt is crucial to stabilize my financial situation,” Mittal stated, expressing relief at the Nigerian settlement, which resolved a prolonged dispute over the Ajaokuta steel plant.
The 44-year Ajaokuta debacle, marked by corruption and mismanagement, saw Mittal’s company, Global Steel Holdings Ltd. (GSH), embroiled in legal battles, including a court-ordered liquidation owing to unpaid dues of $167 million five years ago.
Mittal’s financial predicament saw a glimmer of hope when Nigeria agreed to pay nearly $500 million to settle the dispute, a fraction of the $5.3 billion initially sought by GSH. The settlement, disbursed in installments to GSH’s local unit, aimed to conclude a deal tainted by allegations of fraud.
Matthew Page, a former Nigeria expert at US intelligence agencies, condemned the Ajaokuta ordeal, stating, “Ajaokuta has been a black hole that has gobbled up billions of dollars, enriching multiple generations of politicians and foreign enablers.”
Despite the plant’s dire state, the Nigerian government under President Bola Tinubu remains committed to reviving Ajaokuta. Vice President Kashim Shettima echoed this sentiment, highlighting the plant’s potential to generate half a million jobs.
As Mittal seeks solace in the Nigerian settlement to avert bankruptcy, the specter of Ajaokuta’s troubled legacy looms large, casting a shadow over both personal and national financial ambitions.
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