Poser: where is $180 million Halliburton bribe cash?
The puzzle seems to be getting clear, with the filing of charges against 15 suspects and the discovery that of the $180million cash, $130 million has been traced to the account of a British lawyer, Jeffrey Tesler. Tesler is believed to be the one who shared the money to public officers.
It was gathered yesterday that Tesler’s account in Switzerland has been frozen, following the intervention of the US Department of Justice.
The Federal Government is planning to get Tesler extradited from Britain whenever the trial of the 15 suspects begins.
The Federal Government, on Friday, filed charges against the 15 suspects at the Federal High Court, Abuja and the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory.
The suspects are: Adeyanju Bodunde, former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s aide, George Mark, Hans George Christ, Heinrich J. Stockhausen, Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, and Bilfinger Berger GMBH.
The others are: Ibrahim Aliyu, AVM Abdullahi Dominic Bello, Mohammed Gidado Bakare, Urban Shelter Limited, Intercellular Nigeria Limited, Sherwood Petroleum Limited, Tri-Star Investment Limited, Maizube Holdings Limited, TSKJ Nigeria Limited-(a) Technip S.A., (b)Snamprogetti Netherlands B.V. (c) Kellog Brown and Root Inc(d) Japan Gasoline Corporation of Japan.
Investigation by The Nation revealed that although Tesler was asked to give out $180million to government officials in Nigeria, he disbursed about $50million.
According to findings, the short-changing of Nigerian officials became noticed in September 2008 during the trial of a former Chief Executive Officer of Halliburton, Albert J. Stanley, in a Houston, United States court.
A highly-placed source, who was central to the investigation, said: “During the trial of the ex-CEO of Halliburton, the US government traced about $130million to Tesler’s account. It means that the $180milion was not wholly disbursed.
“After the conviction of the former Halliburton boss, the US Department of Justice succeeded in convincing the Swiss authorities to freeze access to the bribe sum by Tesler.
“That is why the Commissioner of Police, Presidential Panel of Investigation, Amodu Ali and his team recommended the trial of the 15 suspects.
“Nigeria can only have the $130million repatriated, if only the bribe beneficiaries in Nigeria are tried and justice meted out.
“You can now appreciate why the US Government is insisting on the trial of all those implicated in the scandal.”
The Federal Government plans to ask the UK Government to extradite Tesler to hasten the trial of all the 15 suspects.
Another top source added: “From our records, Tesler is on bail in the UK. Both the US and Nigeria are interested in his trial over the scandal.
“Having filed charges before two courts, the Federal Government can explore its Extradition Treaty with the UK to bring Tesler to Nigeria for trial.
“The bribe giver is central to the trial of the 15 suspects. With this commitment from Nigeria, we hope that the UK authorities will extradite Tesler so that we can keep this scandal behind us as a nation.”
The $180million bribery scandal involved the former Halliburton subsidiary, Kellogg Brown and Root (KBR), in respect of the 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 channeled through Tesler in four instalments of $60million; $32.5million; $51million and $23million.
The bribe was allegedly facilitated between 1995 and 2005 in London.
The cash was allegedly stashed by some top government officials and their accomplices in France, Britain, Switzerland, Portugal and Seychelles.
Credit: THE NATION