The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is looking into the roles played by two former National Security Advisers – Gen. Aliyu Gusau and the late Owoye Azazi – and two former Attorneys-General of the Federation on the facilitation of a $200million settlement agreement with Halliburton and four others.
The former AGFs are Mr. Mike Aondoakaa (SAN) and Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN), who have claimed that they never benefited from the agreement in any manner whatsoever.
The anti-graft agency has however retrieved a copy of the agreement signed with a United States law firm, Madison Avenue Legal Resources LLP, from the Federal Ministry of Justice and Aondoakaa, who initiated the pact.
The EFCC has traced the Escrow Account to Madison Escrow Services LLC (the “Escrow Agent”) at the instance of a former Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission(NHRC), Mr. Roland Ewubare, who went to the United States to get the document.
About $32.5million (N13, 585,000, 000) out of about $200million fines from Halliburton Energy Services was allegedly paid into the Escrow Account.
Ewubare was said to have submitted a document to the anti-graft agency showing how the Escrow Agent was engaged by the Federal Government, through the Office of the National Security Adviser to save the nation about $540million from garnishee judgment.
The document showed that the total compensation received by the Escrow Agent for its services was $2.5million.
The EFCC is probing why the N13.5billion was not remitted into the Federation Account in accordance with extant laws.
The anti-graft agency has decided to look into the roles of all those linked with the Settlement Agreement.
Those already interrogated by the EFCC are a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), J.B Daudu (SAN), Mr. E.C Ukala (SAN) Chief Godwin Obla (SAN), D.D. Dodo (SAN) and a top shot of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation(NNPC), Mr. Roland Ewubare.
The breakdown of the $200m remittances by the five companies is as follows: Julius Berger ($35m); Siemens (Euros 30m); Snamprogetti ($30m); Halliburton Energy Services ($32,500,000); and Japan Gasoline Corporation ($26, 500,000).
It was learnt that the next phase of investigation will look into the following areas:
The terms of retainership signed with Madison Legal Resourses LLP by Aondoakaa;
why Gusau reopened the Halliburton issue;
how much was recovered;
who recovered the amount – the US firm or a team of Nigerian lawyers?
why will Federal Government engage a US firm and another set of five Nigerian lawyers on the same matter?
how much was paid to the Nigerian lawyers and on what basis?
was any kick-back offered to any public officer or group? and
what has become of the N13.5b in question?
An EFCC source, who spoke in confidence, said: “We have received heaps of documents on this Halliburton case. Already, the EFCC has retrieved the agreement signed with Madison Legal Resources LLP by the Federal Government from the Federal Ministry of Justice and Aondoakaa. This was why the ex-AGF was not detained.
“We will look into the role of every individual or past public officer involved in the agreement. We are probing the roles of Aondoakaa, Gusau, the late Azazi, Adoke and others. We have already interrogated five lawyers.
“The initial aspect of the probe revealed that a US firm was engaged and later a team of five Nigerian lawyers was also given the same assignment without the termination of the earlier agreement. We need all the key players to clarify many grey areas.
“The investigation remains open as none of those invited has been accused of fraud. The outcome of the ongoing investigation will determine those who have cases to answer.
“We will also extend our probe to the United States where an Escrow Account has been located.”
A source, who was connected with the settlement agreement said: “We welcome the latest investigation of all those who coordinated this agreement. We hope that the EFCC will also probe its former Secretary, Mr. Emmanuel Akomaye, who was part of the agreement too.
“The ex-NSA, Gen. Gusau played a patriotic role when he asked for a revisit of the Halliburton scandal. He also gave security advice that only plea bargain was possible with Julius Berger because it is the company that has been maintaining the Presidential Villa. He said the government cannot afford to be in confrontation with the construction giant and others.”
A document obtained last night gave some insights into the deal.
The document reads in part: “The TSKJ/Halliburton recovery and disgorgement proceedings led to the recovery of over $220m (two hundred and twenty million U.S. dollars) But more importantly protected and saved over $540m (five hundred and forty million U.S dollars) for the Federal Government of Nigeria (the “FGN”).
”A U.S law firm in conjunction with other law firms and investigative service providers initiated discussions with the FGN in 2007, seeking to provide strategic legal advice and additional services to assist the FGN with the recovery of monies and payments from multinational corporations who had committed criminal and civil infractions as a result of the conduct of their respective businesses in Nigeria.
“The Retainer, which was subsequently executed in September 2007 specifically identified and listed several companies for legal action, including, but not limited to the TSKJ Consortium, comprising Technip, Snamprogetti, KBR (Halliburton) and the Japan Gas Company.
“The structure of the Retainer was based on a contingent fee principle with standard and customary provisions, including the stipulation of a fee of 33 1/3rd (thirty three and one third percent) to be paid to Madison in the event of any recoveries.
Madison remains unpaid till date. Given that a total sum in excess of $220 million (two hundred and twenty million U.S dollars) was recovered, Madison’s claims against the FGN as of today exceed $73m (seventy three million U.S dollars) not inclusive of interest accruals.
“From the Scope of Services, the Escrow Agent, an affiliate of Madison, was engaged by the FGN, through the Office of the National Security Adviser, to safeguard funds designated for prosecuting the national military campaigns against fundamentalist insurgents and militant groups in the Northeastern and Niger Delta regions of Nigeria by undertaking the following:
(a) To ring fence and to offer protective custodial services over any and all funds and liquid assets of the FGN domiciled in JP Morgan Chase Bank against adversarial litigation claims pursuant to the Writ of Garnishment attached herewith as Exhibit A and the Order to Produce attached herewith as Exhibit B to the Escrow Agreement;
(b) To ensure secure delivery of any or all portions of the FGN’s funds and liquid assets to the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation or the Central Bank of Nigeria in any currency subject to the judgment and discretion of the Escrow Agent in order to achieve the purpose set forth in the Agreement.
(c) To procure Litigation Liability Insurance and or After -The -Event Litigation Liability insurance cover with a liability cap of $300m (three hundred million USD) to protect the funds and liquid assets of the FGN in the event of a successful adversarial claim arising from pending litigation against the FGN in the United States and the United Kingdom”.
Source: THE NATION