Thursday, April 05, 2012

An Open letter to the President of the United States

An Open letter to the President of the United States

By Dotun Oloko

Dear Mr. President: I am writing to express my deep concern that the U.S. government, through its development finance agency, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), supports financial intermediaries that stand accused of corruption, fraud and money laundering through investments in a number of Nigerian companies and banks that have been reported to be “fronts” for the alleged laundering of money said to have been obtained corruptly by the former Governor of Nigeria’s oil rich Delta State, James Ibori. OPIC sponsored US based Emerging Capital Partners (ECP), through the Africa Fund II, has been making investments alongside close associates of James Ibori. Ibori has since pleaded guilty to money laundering and corruption charges in the UK. ECP has strongly denied all allegations and consequently OPIC has absolved ECP of any wrongdoing despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

History has shown repeatedly, for example in the Nixon-Watergate scandal that in instances of high level corruption or wrongdoing the subsequent cover-up tends to generate graver consequences than the preceding transgression. History appears to be repeating itself in the case of OPIC because OPIC’s handling of the allegations levelled against ECP has generated graver accusations of wrongdoing on the part of OPIC itself and is in danger of damaging the reputation of the US in the process.

To its credit the U. S. is leading the global anti-corruption war with its robust laws and prosecutions. As a Nigerian, I can vouch for the positive impact that U. S. prosecutions such as Jefferson, Siemens, Halliburton and Willbros have had on the anti-corruption battle in Nigeria. While acknowledging the U.S.’s support and contribution to development in Nigeria, I am nevertheless troubled by these serious allegations given that high level corruption has been universally acknowledged to be the single biggest impediment to growth and development in Nigeria.

It is therefore a matter of deep concern that OPIC has absolved ECP of any wrongdoing, in staggering ignorance of or disregard for its own policies, recommendations, US laws and international agreements. In reaching its decision OPIC appears to have relied exclusively on the unsubstantiated self certification and assurances provided by ECP while dismissing the evidence of public and private records provided to OPIC.

To give just one example out of many, the Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) produced an affidavit on the 30th October 2007 which at section 16xxix refers to an OPIC investee company, Oando as one of the companies through which Mr Henry Imasekha, a known Ibori associate and fugitive was moving funds for his principal, Mr Ibori. Yet in its defence, ECP falsely claimed that:

“The EFCC affidavit was not made public until many months after ECP’s first investment in Oando which occurred in November 2007. Therefore ECP was not in a position to have known about the affidavit or its content at the time it invested in Oando.”

This statement by ECP is self-evidently false. The 30th October 2007 affidavit was reported on and available in print and electronic formats from 31st October 2007 onwards, e.g. by (amongst others):

• Sahara Reporters on October 31 2007.
• This Day a prominent Nigerian newspaper in its 31st October 2007 edition
• Africa News a prominent Nigerian news website on 31st October 2007
• Tell, a prominent Nigerian weekly in its November 23rd 2007 edition.

ECP had the requisite knowledge and knew or ought to have known about the connection with fraud. Also, both the investment and the subsequent attempt at a cover-up were acts or omissions, including a misrepresentation that knowingly or recklessly misled, or attempts to mislead, either to obtain a benefit or to avoid an obligation, i.e. a fraudulent practice.

ECP was either aware or should have been aware of the allegations surrounding its investee company Oando before investments were made. Poor due diligence is no excuse for making investments that ECP should be expected not to have made if they were aware of the allegations.

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Ajasin Oluwa said...

James Onanafe Ibori; Africa's master thief!

Ayo Ayeni said...

He stole it all and left his people impoverished, even worse than they fared before the advent of the oil companies in the Niger Delta.

Seyi Oluwagbon said...

Ibori; the Odidigborigbo of Africa. He bribed judges, built private courts for his own prosecution in Nigeria and paid off a column of dimwitted Media executives. He financed single handed Nigeria's presidential elections in 2007 to install the Late Ya'Ardua president and maintained a harem of embezzlers headed by his Mistress-In-Chief, Udoamaka. He groomed and married an Empress thief, from the hardware shops of London to the Government House in Asaba, Delta State. His was a family of thieves and he was called the Sheik of the Niger Delta... and today, how the 'Mighty' have fallen.

Sapele H2O said...

Ibori, the runaway thief! After London, Nigeria will be waiting for you. You must sniff the rods of Kirikiri and have what you had done to others done to you. I go pay your Presido to tear ya yash tire, I swear!

Ayo Ayeni said...

Ibori, oma ole! Jaguda tobi!

Blackstar said...

You can just forget it. We know Obama won't do jack, he is in bed with everything corporatist. He is their man Friday and ever since his advent there is probably no country as corrupt as the US. The UK is no exception nor the EU. It's all a game of dominoes as one country falls after another to their crazed quest for global dominance. It's good though that all this have been put on record and brought to the court of public opinion at least.

Abu Ibrahim said...

This man literally stole Wilbros from the Americans. He made the creeks and immediate offshore hell for Chevron and others. He sent militants to kidnap oil workers from rigs and hotels. In short, he is the one man most responsible for depleting US oil supplies from Nigeria and instigating high oil prices, why then won't Obama respond? I believe he will unless it is not brought to his attention for some reason.

Shalala said...

Forget Obama, the man is done. Vote Ron Paul 2012!

Charlemange said...

Looking at his mug shot, he does look quite the criminal if you ask me but that would be to judge a book from it cover wouldn't it?