Detectives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, probing the whereabout of the $200 million fines, paid by five companies involved in the $180 million Halliburton bribery scam, have made a major discovery in the office of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The breakdown of the 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).
While making the shocking revelation as reported by The Nation Newspaper, an EFCC source said: “One of the five suspects interrogated by our team, indicated that the cash was used to buy a customized security helicopter for ex-President Goodluck Jonathan.”
The suspect added, that the helicopter is still in Buhari’s presidential fleet.
A former Minister of Finance, is currently under investigation for releasing the cash to the Office of the National Security Adviser, ONSA, which was then headed by the late General Owoye Azazi.
The source added: “We have made substantial progress in locating the remittance of the fines into an account in the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, but the cash was withdrawn under the guise of security funding.
“But it was not clear if the N81.4billion was spent on the helicopter, or part of it. We are trying to find out the cost of the helicopter from the manufacturer. Preliminary findings confirmed that the helicopter could not have cost up to N1 billion to N2 billion.”
About $12 million (N3.960 billion) was collected as legal fees by five Lawyers who the EFCC has questioned. The Lawyers are a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), J. B. Daudu (SAN); Damian D. Dodo (SAN); Godwin Obla (SAN); E.C. Ukala (SAN); and Roland Ewubare.
They defended the payment of legal fees, as part of the clause in the agreement for the recovery of the $200 million. They said it was akin to a similar agreement on the Pfizer drug test scandal in Kano State, where Lawyers were paid professional fees for their legal services.
Responding to question, the source revealed; “We also discovered that a former Minister of Finance ordered the release of the fines to ONSA for ‘strange’ security purposes, including the customised helicopter.
“We will also demand records from ONSA, if the cash was actually remitted, and the actual cost of the security helicopter,” the source said.
The source however, claimed that the EFCC investigators might also look at whether or not, the fines were commensurate with the offence committed.
They will also examine why Nigeria, the main victim of the $180 million Halliburton scam, got only $200 million fine.
“The U.S. government was paid about $1.5 billion fine by Halliburton, apart from the jailing of the facilitator of the bribe, a UK Lawyer, Jeffery Tesler.
No Nigerian involved in the scandal has been successfully tried by any court in the country.
Former EFCC Chairman, Nuhu Ribadu, in February 2016, addressed a forum in Germany, where he expressed regrets that the Halliburton scandal was frustrated.