Halliburton Scam: Two Ex-head Of State, Five SANs Under Probe
A fresh probe of the $180m Halliburton bribery scandal by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) , is in progress, with the anti-graft agency set to interrogate several highly-placed beneficiaries.
Under the EFCC radar are two former heads of state and five Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) .
One of the SANs, D. D. Dodo, was grilled for about eight hours on Thursday.
About $22, 417, 000 and DRM 500,000 of the $180million were said to have been shared as bribes to top government officials during the administrations of the late Gen. Sani Abacha, Gen.Abdulsalami Abubakar and ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo.
The involvement of one of the former heads of state, a deceased Emir and his son, an ex-minister and five Senior Advocates was being reviewed at press time.
He said that, if anything, a team of lawyers actually recovered $200million for the Federal Government under an agreement for the resolution of the matter.
A well-placed source said: “The EFCC is revisiting the $180million Halliburton scandal based on fresh evidence. In fact, the list of the beneficiaries of the bribe is already with the commission.
“A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Damian Dodo, was quizzed for eight hours Thursday, February 11 by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as the Commission stepped up investigations into the controversial Halliburton scam.
“The SAN was questioned for his role in the alleged $26 million bribery allegation against a former minister and five other Senior Advocates.
“Specifically, Dodo allegedly received $4.5million through his firm, DD Dodo and Co. from multinational companies involved in the Halliburton bribery scandal under the cover of legal fees.
“He was also alleged to have withdrawn over $2million cash for purposes that are unclear, in flagrant violation of extant money laundering regulations.”
Another source said: “Out of about $22, 417, 000 and DRM 500,000 bribes shared to top government officials in Nigeria, about N25billion fines were paid by some companies.
“Some suspects, who were neck-deep in the scam, got presidential reprieve which compelled the leadership of the anti-graft agency to overlook their infractions.
“No matter how big the suspects are, we will recover the bribe cash. We have the list of the beneficiaries of the bribe sum.
“At a point, the US Government found about $133, 073,750m which was found in the account of Jeffery Tesler who was the facilitator of the bribery.
“Upon this discovery, the Federal Government proposed a 50-50 sharing formula of the funds. We want to know what has become of this arrangement. Certainly, there are many pegs to the Halliburton scandal.
“We are also a subject of ridicule in the international community that none of the suspects has been successfully prosecuted and jailed.”
Giving his own side of the story yesterday, Dodo said EFCC was part of the plea bargain negotiation with five companies.
The companies were Julius Berger, Siemens, Halliburton, Japan oil and Gas Corporation, Snmaprogetti.
He said: “The team was not Damian Dodo alone, it was a team of five SANs and the EFCC was involved from the beginning to the end. The former EFCC Secretary, Emmanuel Akomaye witnessed the agreement on behalf of the Federal Government.
“The team comprised a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), J. B. Daudu (SAN); Godwin Obla (SAN); E.C. Ukala (SAN); and Roland Ewubare.
“About $200million was recovered for the Federal Government from the initiative and professional efforts of the legal team and it was paid to the Central bank of Nigeria (CBN).
“The legal fees were paid to the legal team by the companies in accordance with the agreement and as authorised by the Federal Government.
“We did nothing untoward because both the money payable to the Federal Government and the lawyers were contained in the agreement.
“We recovered $200million at a time there was no legal framework for doing so. It was our creativity and ingenuity that helped to bring $200m into the coffers of the government of Nigeria.
“Ordinarily, we should have been paid 10 per cent of what we recovered but we were paid less than that. So, anyone who says the agreement was a scam is ignorant of the facts.
An Abuja High Court on March 27, 2013 struck out the case against six Nigerian suspects arraigned over the Halliburton scandal.
Those set free were a former Permanent Secretary, Ibrahim Aliyu, Mohammed Gidado Bakari and four companies: Urban Shelter Ltd, Intercellular Nigeria Ltd, Sherwood Petroleum Ltd and Tri-Star Investment Ltd.
The six accused persons had faced trial for allegedly serving as conduits and receiving bribes in hard currency to facilitate natural gas contracts between 1994 and 2005.
The trial judge, Justice Abubakar Sadiq Umar, said the prosecution had failed to diligently prosecute the case.
Besides, Bodunde Adeyanju, a former presidential aide to ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo was arraigned in 2010 alongside George Mark, Jeffrey Tesler (now at large), Hans George Christ, Heinrich J. Stockhausen, Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, Bilfinger Berger GMBH.
But George Mark, Jeffrey Tesler (now at large), Hans George Christ, Heinrich J. Stockhausen; Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, Bilfinger Berger GMBH were alleged to have sometime between 2002 and 2003 conspired to make several cash payments totalling $5million to one Adeyanju .
They were alleged to have committed an offence contrary to Section 16 of the Money Laundering Act 1995 (as saved by Section 23(2) of the Money Laundering Act 2004) and punishable under Section 15(2) and (3) of the Money Laundering Act 1995 (as saved by Section 23(2) of the Money Laundering Act, 2004).
The status of Adeyanju’s trial was unknown at press time.
The $180million bribery scandal involved the former Halliburton’s subsidiary, Kellogg Brown and Root (KBR) in respect of the nation’s Liquefied Natural Gas plant in Bonny.
Albert J. Stanley admitted before a Houston Court in the US on September 4, 2008 that he orchestrated more than $180million in bribe to senior government officials.
Stanley alleged that the bribe was channelled through a UK based lawyer, Mr. Jeffery Tesler, in four instalments of $60million; $32.5million; $51million; and $23million.
The bribe was allegedly facilitated between 1995 and 2005 in London.
The countries where the bribe money was allegedly stashed by some top government officials and their accomplices are France, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Portugal and Seychelles.
Tesler, 63, was in February, 2012 sentenced to 21 months in prison in the US after pleading guilty to bribing Nigerian Government officials with $132 million dollars between 1994 and 2004. He also forfeited $149 million to US authorities under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).
It was gathered that Tesler played a fast one on Nigerian officials who were to benefit from the $180m by diverting $133, 073, 750million to his account in Switzerland.
He only shared about $22, 417, 000 and DRM 500,000 to some top government officials.
Upon discovery of the $133, 073, 750m in Tesler’s account, the Swiss government froze the account and during the trial of the accused person, the looted fund was transferred to the US.
But the Federal Government, through the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, has initiated moves to recover the $133, 073,750m which was found in Tesler’s account.
A former EFCC chairman, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, recently in Germany expressed regrets that investigation of the Halliburton scandal was frustrated in the country.
He said: “A gang of foreigners stole from Nigeria” from a $6 billion natural gas contract won by a consortium of four international companies.
Ribadu added: “I first got hint of the case in France. I got back home and tried to investigate the case but it was very difficult or probably impossible because the companies were not there in Nigeria, they didn’t have account there, the people were not there. They had left.
“I rushed back to Paris. I was in Paris many times. I put in a request letter but after a year of trying to get French authorities to help us, the investigation magistrate told me that they could not get anyone to translate my letter from English to French. I knew it was a hopeless case.”
He said after failing to get France, Italy and Japan to help, he opted to go to the United States even though Dick Cheney, the then US vice president, was on the board of Halliburton.
“The Department of Justice in the United States took up the case. They investigated and prosecuted the case. They placed a fine of over $1.5 billion on the company, the biggest in the world for corporate corruption.”
He said from some of the cases which the EFCC under his watch referred to US Department of Justice, including those of Siemens and Julius Berger, the US made over $3 billion in fines.
“But the sad aspect is this, in my own country, where the criminal activity took place, not a single person was made to face justice, especially after I was asked to leave my position. Sadly Nigeria did not make a dollar out of it.”