US has evidence against Nigerians over Halliburton case



US has evidence against Nigerians –Investigators

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By Agency Reporter


Published: Sunday, 19 Apr 2009

The United States government is in possession of overwhelming evidence to convict Nigerians involved in the $180m Halliburton bribe scandal, Empowered Newswire reports.

This is contrary to the insinuations by the Attorney General and Justice Minister, Mr. Michael Aondoakaa, on the potential lack of evidence to convict them.

At least, three former top Nigerian officials, the news agency said, were involved in the scandal.

Although the US government is said to be only legally concerned about the role of its citizens, sources were quoted as saying that the American investigators already have sufficient information that will incriminate the Nigerian collaborators in the scam.

The scandal allegedly took place under three different administrations between 1994 and 2004.

Aondoakaa had insinuated earlier that while bribes could have been offered to some Nigerians, that if they were not received, they did not make a crime.

The AG’s statement had caused a flurry of comments in the US and in Nigeria on the Federal Government‘s true intentions on the Halliburton matter.

The US Justice Department and legal sources hinted during the week that not only were there evidence against some Nigerian and foreign collaborators in the over one-decade old bribery, but the identified ringleader, US citizen Albert Jack Stanley, was so overwhelmed at the depth of the investigation and the evidence unearthed that he did not even wait to be indicted before he started cooperating with the US Justice Department when confronted.

Normally, the indicting authority in the US would issue a criminal indictment against an accused/defendant and then proceed to trial on the basis of the indictment. The indictment is the government charge-sheet detailing the offences committed and violations floated by the accused/defendant.

Convinced of the weight of the evidence against him by the US Justice Department, Stanley, the CEO of the Halliburton subsidiary, who ran the bribery scheme, opted to plead guilty even before indictment and entered into a plea deal with the US Justice Department. Lawyer Larry Veselka last week described his client as a cooperating witness.

Ian McCaleb, a senior US Justice Department spokesperson confirmed that ”Mr. Stanley was not indicted.”

According to McCabb, the US government rather ”filed a criminal information against him in Houston in August of 2008, that Stanley opted to enter into a plea agreement.”

Legal observers say the process is indicative of Stanley‘s cooperation with the US government to prevent an indictment, meaning that he did not even have to face a US Grand Jury which normally confirms defendants’ indictment.

According to a US-based Nigerian lawyer Shamsey Oloko it is often the case that when the US federal government decides to take a criminal matter to court, it is often ready and prepared with evidence that will lead to a conviction.

Official US records indicate that the conviction rate of the US Justice department is well over 90 per cent.

This explains why, according to US government officials, there is no keenness on the part of the US Justice Department to cooperate with Nigeria over the Halliburton scandal, because the Nigerian authorities are not known with similar painstaking determination that will lead to conviction in corruption cases.

As one US government official said on condition of anonymity, ”The US government was not ready to be used as part of Nigeria‘s political football.”

According to the Plea Agreement signed by the US Justice Department and Stanley, he agreed to ”waive indictment and to plead to an information charging him with two counts of conspiracy to commit an offence against the US.”

The plea deal also states that Stanley agrees to waiving ”any right to have facts that the law makes essential to the punishment charged in the information, or proven to a jury or proven beyond a reasonable doubt.”

The plea deal also stipulated that Stanley would certainly get a jail term of up to 10 years, but might receive a supervised release after imprisonment of up to three years on each of the two counts to which he pleaded guilty. In fact, Stanley agreed that he cannot receive a suspended sentence nor will he be eligible for parole.

According to his lawyer, Veselka, Stanley is ready to testify and reveal information on Nigerians involved in the bribery and corruption scandal.

Stanley is awaiting sentence later in August having freely pleaded guilty.




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