The Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL) has lauded the efforts of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) to reopen the investigation into the $180million Siemens, Halliburton scam, saying it will ensure diligent prosecution of all culprits and it will enable the nation to get more of the looted funds from the United States.
The Federal Government has reportedly ordered security and legal operatives to revisit the Halliburton scandal involving Nigerians, who received bribes from the international company. It was reported that during the last administration of Goodluck Jonathan, attempts were made to look into the case again but it was thwarted by some officials. The American government’s report on the Halliburton bribery scandal had indicted the former presidents, a minister, intelligence chiefs and corporate giants in the list of bribery beneficiaries.
The Halliburton scandal concerned the payment of millions of dollars to senior Nigerian officials to secure a construction contract for a liquefied natural gas plant in Bonny Island in the Niger Delta. German industrial conglomerate Siemens subsequently agreed to pay a $1.6 billion settlement to U.S. and European authorities for bribery of officials around the world, including Nigeria. A court in Germany had indicted Siemens and sentenced its top Executives to various terms of imprisonment for bribing Nigerian officials to the tune of 1.3billion Euros. Halliburton and its former subsidiary, Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR) entered a guilty plea and agreed to pay $579 million, the largest corruption settlement ever paid by a U.S. company in high-level bribery cases involving payments from multinationals to secure contracts in Nigeria and other countries. In Nigeria, the senior government officials that received the bribes were never charged to court.
Our background information has it that on November 22, 2010, Siemens reportedly reached a settlement agreement with the federal government under which Siemens will pay 7billion Nigerian Naira (approximately $46.5 million) to the Nigerian Government in exchange for the EFCC dropping charges against Siemens AG, Siemens Nig Ltd and four of its officers. The settlement payment was variously described as “restitution” and “disgorgement.
In connection with the TSKJ / Bonny Island bribery matter, on November 25, 2010, it was reported that the EFCC arrested ten Halliburton employees in Nigeria during a raid of the offices of Halliburton Energy Services Nigeria Limited in Lagos, as well as one employee each from Saipem Contracting Nigeria and Technip Offshore Nigeria. On December 7, 2010, the EFCC reportedly filed corruption charges against Halliburton, former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney (who was the CEO of Halliburton during the period at issue), Albert Stanley (a former CEO of KBR), David Lesar (the then current CEO of Halliburton) and William Utt (the then current CEO of KBR). Technip, Snamprogetti and JGC Corporation were reportedly also charged on the same day.
There were allegations that the former Hon. Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Justice Mohammed Bello Adoke coordinated a bribery scheme that extorted about $26 million USD from about 10 multinational companies involved in the Siemens and Halliburton bribery scandals in the last quarter of 2010.
CACOL in respect to the allegations wrote a petition on the 26th of July 2011 to the former President, Goodluck Jonathan and the EFCC under the reign of Madam Farida Waziri on the role played by the then Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mr Mohammed Bello Adoke in not prosecuting that case and request for a thorough investigation of $26million USD bribery allegation against former Attorney General and Minister of Justice.
The amount was believed to have been collected under the official cover of making the accused multinational companies pay the legal fees of prosecution counsels even though the accused were never prosecuted in any court of the land to warrant such unethical secret levy. While the EFCC and the Ministry of Justice and Office of the Attorney-General have listed various sums of money totaling about $240million as funds recovered in fines and penalties from these multinational companies, no one has dared mention the $26million or more secretly extorted from these companies and who the beneficiaries are.
Speaking through its Executive Chairman, Debo Adeniran commended the EFCC under the administration of its acting Executive Chairman, Mr. Ibrahim Mustafa Magu for reopening the bribery scandal cases as it is a way of ensuring that all those who participated in the bribery scam are investigated and charge to court. This he said, “was practically demonstrated yesterday when the EFCC had to send somebody down from Abuja to make CACOL adopt the petition it wrote since 2011. That signals the seriousness to which the EFCC is treating the case.”
According to Adeniran, “it was only a few of them that came to the open during the previous investigations. Some powerful names were mentioned which include former President Olusegun Obasanjo, former Vice-president Artiku Abubarkar and some companies that belong to the former Head of State, Abdusalami Abubarkar. $110 million was reportedly received during former President Olusegun Obasanjo tenure. The companies that belong to the former Head of State, we also learnt from reliable sources paid their way out of prosecution and that is why CACOL is insisting that Obasanjo and others should be called and intensively interrogated over their involvement in the international bribery scandal. The amount involved could have been staggering which led to none proseque of all the companies that were involved in the Siemens, Halliburton cases.
“The EFCC showed initial enthusiasm to prosecute the culprits until we discovered the involvement of the Ministry of Justice and the Office of the then Attorney-General of the Federation. Justice Mohammed Bello Adoke, SAN negotiated the prosecution out and made it impossible for the EFCC to prosecute the case. That was where they were able to get a refund of $240 million which they claimed they got through plea-bargains.”
In its opinion, the Coalition believes it is not plea-bargains but what could be described as an underhand billing which is not known to the law because there was nothing official about the negotiation that led to the withdrawal of the case against the companies involved.
The Coalition, CACOL therefore urge the EFCC and all other security agencies that would be involved in the fresh investigation to ensure that diligent prosecution is made. We also urge the EFCC to file appropriate charges against anyone found to have abused his office in this matter at the end of investigation. No stone should be left unturned in the case, so that Nigerian will no longer be the laughing stock to the Comity of Nations.