Buhari Orders Fresh Review Of Halliburton Bribery Scandal – Report
The Federal Government (FG) has ordered a fresh review of the Siemens and Halliburton cases where the former Managing Director and Director of Finance of Siemens Nigeria Ltd, Mr. Edward Seidel and Mr. Klaus Gilbert respectively in collaboration with some consultants bribed top Nigerian officials to the tune of $17.5 million.
The fresh review according to Daily Trust was necessitated by the half-hearted investigation purportedly conducted by the EFCC during the last administration.
Senior government official in last administration were alleged to have stalled investigation because of vested interest, Daily Trust added.
Quoting a source which does not want to be named, the paper said a request was yesterday made to the EFCC to review the Siemens and Halliburton cases.
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. The panel that investigated the cases which recommended to the late President Yar Adua that those implicated should be charged to court was chaired by the former Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mike Okiro The case of Halliburton was investigated by a security panel headed by retired AIG Ahmadu Ali, who at the end of the case charged a former personal aide to a former Head of State to court but the case was later struck out due to lack of diligent prosecution.
As at the time of filing in this report, about $180 million had been purportedly refunded to the FG through plea bargaining with the last administration of President Goodluck Jonathan.
In one of their reports, investigators provided details of how bribery monies were moved into Nigeria from foreign banks.
It was alleged that between 1999 and 2002, there were various fund transfers from Jeffrey Tesler to two Nigerians through the International Bank accounts of their respective companies as well as personal accounts.
Major International banks involved in this include – Barclays Banks UK, Citi Bank NA New York US, Monument Trust, Channels Island, Bank of New York e.t.c.
It was also found out that some of the funds transferred had no specific purpose and were not for projects that are feasible.
A managing director of one of the major construction companies in Nigeria also provided details of how some of the bribe money were funnelled to the Peoples Democratic Party ( PDP), through the group managing director of the NNPC.
He said that in 2002, The GMD approached him through one Mr. Stock Housing to support the ruling PDP financially by way of donation.
He said however, that based on company’s principle and legal advise, his company declined to heed to the request.
He said that Stockhausen on the GMD’s request later approached him again for his firm to provide logistic support to receive funds for PDP from foreign donors. That request was later considered to further the democratic process in Nigeria.
He said the total amount remitted into same account was five (5) million US dollar. He said the first sum of $1 million was released to the GMD in his Transcorp Hilton Hotel room in February, 2003 in the presence of one Bodunde, who claimed to be a representative of PDP. The two (2) other releases of $ 1million were made in the same manner and to same persons at later dates. The last sum of $2 million was paid in naira, equivalent of one million dollars each one in two installments. First by him and the second by Hans Christ. The naira equivalent paid to the duo was N140 million for $1 million.
When the scandal broke, the company appealed to the Nigerian government to pay the sum of $25 million to escape prosecution. The investigation report said the request was accepted and the money was paid. However, it could not be esblished as to what happened to the money.
Daily Trust recalls that barely a week after the inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari, the United States government had asked him to revisit the $182 million Halliburton bribery case and diligently prosecute all those involved in the scandal.
President Buhari, according to sources close to him, consequently, directed the appropriate security agencies to reopen investigations into the case and make appropriate recommendations to him.
“Following this development, President Buhari has directed the investigation committee made up of representatives of all security agencies to dust off the files and complete the investigations and charge those indicted to court,” the source said.
Key security officers involved in the investigations and lawyers at the Federal Ministry of Justice have started retrieving files and dusting off documents on the case.
When contacted on phone yesterday, EFCC spokesman Wilson Uwujaren asked for time to get the relevant information across to our correspondent.