30 March 2009

Nigeria: Halliburton - FG Asks U.S. to Name Indicted Citizens

Lagos — The Federal Government has written to the United States government, demanding that individuals involved in the Halliburton bribery scandal be named.

In a letter signed by the Attorney-General of Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Michael Aondoakaa (SAN), and addressed to the US Attorney-General, Mr. Eric Holder, Aondoakaa asked his US counterpart to avail the Nigerian government with all the evidence in his possession on the scandal.

The letter, dated February 17, 2009, said it was obvious from the allocution and indictment of Mr. Albert Stanley Jackson that the US was aware of the identities of the persons who assisted Jackson in committing the crimes.

He demanded that all information and names of the individuals involved in the scandal be named.

Aondoakaa also introduced Messrs Kayode Oladele and Jack Blum as attorneys appointed by the Nigerian government to liaise with the US government's relevant authorities, to release all the information and documents in their possession on the investigation of Jackson relating to the evidence gathered and presented to the grand jury during the trial.

While urging the "relevant authorities" to give the attorneys all the necessary cooperation and assistance, the AGF said the Nigerian government was inclined to commence criminal action against the Nigerian officials involved immediately the records were received.

In the letter, a copy of which was obtained by THISDAY at the weekend, the AGF said the scandal was in violation of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Act 2000 and Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act of 2004.

Disclosing that the request was in pursuant to the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) between the US and Nigeria reached in 2003, Aondoakaa said to the extent that funds related to the commission of these crimes in Nigeria could be located, the US should assist in the repatriation of the funds to Nigeria.

He promised that the Nigerian government would not use the information or evidence supplied under the MLAT for any case or investigation other than that for which the information or evidence was requested.

The AGF argued that owing to the zero tolerance of the Nigerian government for corruption and in order to further demonstrate its commitments to fighting the malaise, it was necessary and urgent for the identities of the Nigerians and other foreign nationals involved in the matter to be revealed.

Jackson who is a principal defendant in the case, is currently in custody of the US Marshall having been sentenced to prison by the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas.

He was sentenced in September 2008 following his plea agreement with the US Attorney's office in which he confessed to commission of the offences charged in violation of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and other US laws.

The letter reads: "Specifically, the Government of Nigeria requests all the evidence in possession of the United States as the result of its investigation of Mr. Stanley. The Nigerian government requests access to all the documents, records of interviews, transcripts, and records relating to the Stanley case including but not limited to evidence gathered and presented to the grand jury.

"Further, as the Nigerian investigation develops, the Nigerian government requests that the United States allow it to take testimony under oath from Mr. Stanley. It requests that the United States help locate and compel the testimony under oath of other witnesses within the jurisdiction of the United States who may have relevant information. It also asks that the United States assist by compelling United States persons and corporations identified in the investigation to turn over additional documents and evidence as the need arises.

"This investigation involves a suspected criminal conspiracy among Nigerian government officials, Nigerian nationals, and foreign nationals all as yet unidentified, to obtain a contract for the construction of LNG facilities in exchange for bribes. The underlying facts are known to the government of the United States as a result of the conviction of Albert Stanley Jackson, a U.S citizen and resident of Houston, Texas for violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

"According to the Court records, on September 3, 2008, Albert Stanley Jackson, a former officer and director of Kellogg, Brown & Root, Inc. (KBR), a global engineering and construction services company based in Houston, Texas, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the FCPA in connection with a scheme to bribe Federal Government of Nigeria officials in order to obtain engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contracts worth more than $6 billion.

"As set forth in the criminal information, between March 1991 and June 2004, he served in various capacities as an officer and director of KBR, and KBR's predecessor, The M.W. Kellogg Company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Dresser Industries, Inc, including serving on the steering committee of a joint venture in which these companies, at various times, had an interest.

"According to the criminal information, the joint venture hired Consultant A (a citizen of the United Kingdom) to help it obtain business in Nigeria, including by offering to pay and paying bribes to high level Nigerian government officials, including employees of The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (an entity owned and controlled by the Government of Nigeria). In addition, the joint venture hired another consulting company headquartered in Japan to also help it obtain business in Nigeria, including by offering to pay and paying bribes to Nigerian foreign officials. The joint venture paid the Japanese consulting company several millions of Dollars for use in bribing Nigerian government officials. According to Stanley's admission, these illegal payments assisted the joint venture in obtaining four EPC contracts to build the Bonny Island (Nigeria) Liquefied Natural Gas Project valued at over $6 billion.

"By pleading guilty to the charges, Mr. Stanley acknowledged that he and his co-conspirators willfully and knowingly agreed to make improper payments to Nigeria foreign officials in order to obtain the contract for the construction of the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG - Bonny Island) Project. In the criminal information filed by the U.S Department of Justice, Mr. Stanley detailed various meetings he participated in with his co-conspirators during which discussions occurred as to the use of particular consultants to pay bribes to Nigerian officials to secure support for the joint venture to obtain and retain contracts in connection with the Liquefied Natural Gas project. The records also indicated that the primary purpose of the joint venture consulting contracts was to facilitate the payment of bribes to Nigerian officials through which various payment were made to the con-conspirators using several banks in the Netherlands, the U.S., Switzerland, Monaco, and Japan for this enterprise.

"At his allocution before the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Mr. Stanley, in addition to pleading guilty to conspiring to violate the FCPA, also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud in connection with a kickback scheme he participated in with a consultant in connection with LNG projects around the world in which he received several millions of Dollars in kickbacks.

"Under a plea agreement between the United States Department of Justice and Mr. Stanley, which formed the basis for the Court's judgment, Mr. Stanley was sentenced to seven years in prison in addition to payment of restitution in the amount of $250,000. He also agreed to cooperate in ongoing investigations related to the above conduct. The Federal Government of Nigeria wishes to make use of his cooperation agreement.

"The Nigerian Attorney -General has opened an investigation of this matter and now requests assistance from the United States Government. The Attorney General is determined to prosecute all of the participants in this case of grand corruption wherever they may be located, to the full extent of Nigerian law.

"The victim of the illegal overt acts and criminal conspiracy described in the Stanley indictment and allocution is the Federal Government of Nigeria. Between 1995 and 2004, the Federal Government of Nigeria awarded various contracts to the Joint Venture through LNG Limited, a corporation created by the Nigeria Government to develop an NLG facility on Bonny Island.

"During that time the contracts that were awarded to the Joint venture were valued at over US$6 billion. Most of the money went into kickbacks which were channeled through Mr. Stanley and various other consultants in active connivance with top government functionaries in Nigeria. Mr. Stanley's investigation also revealed that these monies were routed through Swiss bank accounts including accounts held in the names of nominees and Shell companies in order to conceal their scheme.

"The Federal Government of Nigeria wants to initiate criminal proceedings against the Nigerian public officers involved for violating the Nigerian laws relating to Financial and other Economic Crimes. The Government also wants to seek forfeiture of assets related to violations of Economic Crime and other Financial control and regulation laws in Nigeria.

"In order to do this, the Federal Government of Nigeria would require all the reports of the investigation conducted by the U.S Government including all documents recovered from Mr. Stanley or under the control or custody of Mr. Stanley or a competent authority relating to all inquiry and investigation and any other investigative files. The Federal Government of Nigeria would also require the assistance of the U.S Government to compel Mr. Stanley to provide substantial assistance to the Nigerian Government including providing truthful, complete and accurate information to the Nigerian government pursuant to his plea agreement with U.S government."

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