A British high street solicitor laundered “huge sums of money” in bribes to Nigeria via accounts in Switzerland and Monaco, an extradition hearing was told yesterday.
Jeffrey Tesler, 61, faces jail in the US if sent there and convicted. He claims extradition would be unfair because he might also face prosecution in Britain, where the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has been conducting its own prolonged investigation.
Tesler, who is claimed to have been the London-based “bagman” for US construction firms, denies that his alleged behaviour has sufficient connection to America to justify his being flown there for trial.
At Horseferry Road magistrates court his QC, William Clegg, said the US was not the victim. “This is an offence directed against the country of Nigeria,” he said.
David Perry QC, on behalf of the US government, claimed that Tesler’s conduct had “clear links with the US”. He told the London court: “The SFO has ceded jurisdiction to the United States.”
He said US contractors received the benefit of corrupt payments totalling $132m (£79m) transmitted by Tesler via Chase Manhattan, a bank in New York. In one of the largest penalties in US corporate history, the construction giant Halliburton and associated companies have already paid out $579m for breaching anti-corruption laws over the Nigerian scandal.
Bribes were paid out over a period of a decade on behalf of a consortium that was handed contracts worth $6bn to construct liquefied natural gas plants at Bonny Island, on the coast of the oil-rich west African state. The Texas-based US chief executive of the subsidiary concerned, Jack Stanley, faces a potential seven-year jail sentence after pleading guilty to creaming off kickbacks from the bribe money.
The US authorities say two Britons played key roles: Tesler and another British resident, Wojcieh Chodan, who was an executive at Halliburton’s UK subsidiary company MW Kellogg, headquartered in west London. Chodan faces separate extradition proceedings in the new year.
The entire Nigerian bribery scheme was organised through London, according to the US authorities, taking advantage of Britain’s weak laws against overseas corruption. Labour ministers waved through a British loan guarantee for part of the deal in 2003, describing it as an example of “sound financial judgment”. Cash flowed down an elaborate route, involving a subsidiary registered in Madeira, a Tesler company registered in Gibraltar and bank accounts in the Netherlands.
Perry said conspiring to bribe Nigerian officials could amount to a crime in Britain as well as the US, so extradition could take place under normal legal rules.
Britain’s willingness to deport its own citizens to the US for trial has caused controversy. Many countries will not extradite their own citizens, but the government signed a 2003 treaty with the US making extradition easier.
Gary McKinnon, a computer hacker who suffers from a form of autism according to his supporters, is making a last-ditch plea to the home secretary to avoid extradition for allegedly hacking into Pentagon computers and disrupting them.
Ogoni Youths Give FG 14 Days To Fix East-West Road
No fewer than 400 youths under the aegis of Ogoni Youth Federation (OYF), yesterday, staged a peaceful protest at the Eleme axis of the East-West Road, giving the Federal Government 14 days ultimatum to mobilize to site and fix the road or have economic activities in the area grounded.
The protesters, who carried various placards with inscriptions to press home their demands, trekked from Akpajo Junction to Refinery Junction in Eleme LGA, chanting solidarity songs to register their discontent over the neglect of the road.
Addressing newsmen during the protest, President General of the Ogoni Youth Federation, Comrade Legborsi Yaamabana, said it was regrettable that the road, which was a major route to the economic hub of the nation, has remained in a deplorable state, only becoming a death trap that has terminated the lives of innocent Ogonis.
Yaamabana, who described the mass action of the youths as a ‘warning protest’, said if the contractors handling the road were not immediately mobilized to site, then, the youths will have no option than to shut down all economic activities in the area.
He said, “we cannot continue to watch our people being killed on daily basis by tankers because of the poor state of Eleme axis of the east west road, we are calling on the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency fix the road and save our people from untimely deaths as a result of the sorry state of the road, the only bridge on the road at Aleto has collapse but nothing is being done to avert the disasters faced by our people daily”.
Yaamabana also called on the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio to constitute a substantive board for the Niger Delta Development Commission to address the development needs of the Niger Delta region, noting that the use of interim management for NDDC was “diversionary, self serving and not in the interest of the development of the Niger Delta region”.
The OYF president general also called on the Federal Government to exonerate Ken Saro-Wiwa and his compatriots who were extra-judicially murdered by the late Gen Sani Abacha military junta, and given post-humours honour as martyrs of democracy in Nigeria, while the ideals of justice they stood for should be upheld.
Also speaking, the immediate past secretary of the Ijaw Youth Council, Eastern Zone, Comrade James Tobin, who joined the protest in solidarity, decried the neglect of the East—West Road by the Federal Government, and called the immediate fixing of the road to save the teeming road users from untold pains and death.
By: Taneh Beemene
Rising Prices Push 7m Nigerians Below Poverty Line -World Bank
The World Bank has said that rising prices pushed about seven million Nigerians below the poverty line in 2020.
This was contained in a press statement titled, ‘Critical reforms needed to reduce inflation and accelerate the recovery, says new World Bank report,’ released by the World Bank’s Senior External Affairs Officer of Nigeria, Mansir Nasir.
The press statement was released, yesterday, in line with the latest World Bank Nigeria Development Update.
It was acknowledged that the Federal Government “took measures to protect the economy against a much deeper recession” but it was recommended that certain policies should be set for a strong recovery.”
The statement read, “The NDU, titled ‘Resilience through Reforms,’ notes that in 2020, the Nigerian economy experienced a shallower contraction of -1.8 per cent than had been projected at the beginning of the pandemic (-3.2 per cent). Although the economy started to grow again, prices are increasing rapidly, severely impacting Nigerian households.
“As of April, 2021, the inflation rate was the highest in four years. Food prices accounted for over 60% of the total increase in inflation. Rising prices have pushed an estimated seven million Nigerians below the poverty line in 2020 alone.”
Quoted in the statement, the World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri, identified some of the challenges faced by the country and recommended a way forward.
“Nigeria faces interlinked challenges in relation to inflation, limited job opportunities, and insecurity.
“While the government has made efforts to reduce the effect of these by advancing long-delayed policy reforms, it is clear that these reforms will have to be sustained and deepened for Nigeria to realise its development potential,” Chaudhuri said.
Also quoted is the World Bank Lead Economist for Nigeria and co-author of the NDU, Marco Hernandez, who also gave a recommendation.
“Given the urgency to reduce inflation amidst the pandemic, a policy consensus and expedite reform implementation on exchange-rate management, monetary policy, trade policy, fiscal policy, and social protection would help save lives, protect livelihoods, and ensure a faster and sustained recovery,” Hernandez said.
Inflation Dips To 17.93% In May, NBS Confirms
Nigeria’s inflation rate dropped to 17.93 per cent in May, 2021, from 18.12 per cent recorded in April, 2021.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) revealed this in its monthly Consumer Price Index report released, yesterday.
The drop in the headline inflation in May was the second consecutive month this year.
The report indicates that the consumer price index (CPI), which measures the inflation rate increased by 17.93 per cent (year-on-year) in May, 2021, which is 0.19 per cent points lower than the rate recorded in the preceding month.
According to NBS, food inflation dropped in the same month from 22.78 per cent recorded in April, 2021 to 22.28 per cent in May, 2021.
The report reads, ‘‘All items less farm produce which excludes the prices of volatile agricultural produce stood at 13.15 per cent in May, 2021, up by 0.41 per cent when compared with 12.74 per cent recorded in April, 2021.
‘‘The highest increases were recorded in prices of pharmaceutical products, garments, shoes and other footwear, hairdressing salons and personal grooming establishments, furniture and furnishing, carpet and other floor covering.
‘‘Others include, motor cars, Hospital services, fuels and lubricants for personal transport equipment, cleaning, repair and hire of clothing.
“Other services include personal transport equipment, gas, household textile, and non-durable household goods,” the NBS added.
- City Crime2 days ago
10 Offenders Convicted Under Anti-Piracy Law – NIMASA DG
- Politics2 days ago
NUJ Hails Wike As Pride Of Democracy In Nigeria
- Politics2 days ago
PDP Rep Harps On Justice, Dialogue To Secure Nigeria
- Politics2 days ago
Ex-APC National Chairman Tasks Party On Responsive Leadership
- Sports2 days ago
AFN Election: Committee To Hold Election, Today
- Sports2 days ago
Is Musa’s Super Eagles Career Fading?
- Sports2 days ago
Poland Open: Nigerian Wrestlers Win Gold, Silver
- Politics2 days ago
‘No Man Would Have Done What Wike Has Done’