27 October 2012, Sweetcrude, Abuja – President Goodluck Jonathan has directed the Attorney General of the federation, Mr. Adoke, to fish out the $26.5 million plea bargain money paid by construction giant, Julius Berger, and make same available to the Police by next week. The construction company was indicted in a report which examined the Halliburton $180 million bribery scandal.
It was gathered that the decision to task the Attorney General with the assignment, followed conflicting statements by both Julius Berger, office of the Accountant General of the federation and the Police investigators about the true position of the money. One account claims the money was in the possession of the Accountant General of the federation. Another account claims the money was being kept in the office of the AGF while the Police said they are at a loss over the money’s whereabouts.
Julius Berger, one of the companies indicted in the Halliburton $180 million bribery scandal had opted for a plea bargain in order to be spared the prosecution process following the conclusion of the 5-man inter-agency investigation panel headed by the Inspector General of Police.
It was gathered that there is more than meets the eye with regards to the whereabouts of the plea bargain money and that the American government was aware of some under hand dealings hence it told President Jonathan to order investigation to look for the money.
Efforts are also to be made to ascertain if, Julius Berger actually paid any money into federal government coffers.
Julius Berger, during Police investigations into the bribery scandal was allegedly found to be the conduit pipe through which Halliburton and Mr. Jeffery Tesler distributed the bribe money to top government functionaries and some prominent Nigerians.
Of all the major suspects indicted in the Police investigation reports, only the former Special Assistant on Domestic Affairs to former President Obasanjo who admitted to collecting $6million from former GMD of NNPC, Chief Jackson Gaius Obaseki was charged to court and since 2010, the trial has been ongoing.
The case was reopened again, two weeks ago when the federal government requested the United States government to release the balance of the bribery money held up in a U.S. bank.
In its response, the U.S. government bluntly refused to release the money saying while it (US) prosecuted those who partook in the corruption scam in the US and jailed them, the Nigerian government has been paying lip service to the matter indicating it was not serious in the fight against corruption.
The only condition given to release the money was the immediate prosecution of all those top shots including Julius Berger that were indicted in the bribery scandal.