Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Halliburton scandal: EFCC closing in on ‘$200million purportedly remitted to FG

The Economic and financial Crime Commission has made a headway in the $180 million Halliburton bribery scandal.
The Nation newspapers reports that the anti-graft agency is reported to be tracing the N66 billion ($200 million) paid as fine by the companies involved in the international scandal.
The EFCC is said to have questioned the lawyers that negotiated the settlement agreement to make an account of the monies collected and about $12 million (N3.960 billion) the lawyers were said to have collected as fee.
Damian Dodo, one of the lawyers that handled the settlement, in a letter to the EFCC boss, Ibrahim Magu, acknowledged that the lawyers had collected $3.5 million of the $4.5 million as legal fees.
The remaining $1 million, according to Dodo, was remitted to the federal government as “reimbursement cost to the Federal Government of Nigeria.

The letter reads in part: “Further to my brief dated 11th February, 2016, I hereby wish to bring to your attention that the sum of $1,000,000 (N150million at the time) was approved by the Hon. Attorney -General as reimbursement of cost to the Federal Government of Nigeria.”
“The said sum of $1,000,000 was deducted from the sum of $4.5million received by D.D. Dodo and Co. on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria legal team, leaving the team with $3.5million.”
“On the instruction of the Team Leader, Mr. J.B. Daudu(SAN), I forwarded to the Federal Ministry of Justice a cheque in the sum of N150 milion (equivalent of $1,000,000) at the prevailing exchange rate at the time)in March 2011. Copy of the acknowledgement from the Federal Ministry of Justice dated 16th March 2011 is attached for ease of reference.”
“I am also aware that some other sum was approved to the HAGF as Federal Government of Nigeria cost from the payments received by Obla and co and that the sum was accordingly remitted to the Federal Ministry of Justice. Chief Godwin Obla will provide you further details in this regard. I hope this helps in the process of your investigation.”
The EFCC is said to be investigating more suspects in the Settlement Agreement case. A source who spoke to the Nation said that: “This commission is making progress despite the braggadocio in the media by some people being investigated. The truth is that we have conflicting records which we need to reconcile.”
“If companies paid penalty fines as part of plea bargaining, Nigerians deserve to know where the money is. Let them produce evidence of remittance of the fines. We are going to get to the roots of this scandal, including the legal fees of about $12million. We may also interact with all those involved in the agreement. We want to locate the whereabouts of the fines duly paid.”
“We are closing in on more suspects who have to come and tell us all they know about the whereabouts of the $200million purportedly remitted to the government. Now, we have got a new dimension to the case involving payment or remittance of $1,000,000 to the Federal Ministry of Justice. We need all records and we may invite some key officials of the ministry to testify.”
“In fact, the so-called $200million fines appeared to be a far cry from what the nation ought to have got. About $1.5billion was paid by Halliburton to the US Government. Yet, the country, which was ripped off, got pittance.”
“Despite the fines, the facilitator of the bribery, a UK lawyer, Mr. Jeffery Tesler, has just completed a jail term. In Nigeria, all the culprits are walking freely as if it was a normal trend. We are looking at all these dimensions to the case. We want justice for Nigeria.”
No Nigerian has been convicted of the Halliburton bribery scandal, despite the fact that several persons in the UK and USA, who were involved in the scandal, have been convicted of the crime.
Some former government officials, including former Permanent Secretary, Ibrahim Aliyu and former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s aide, Bodunde Adeyanju, among others, were in the last few years, charged to court but the case was thrown out by the court because the prosecution failed to “diligently prosecute the case.”
Credit: NewsNigeria