The over $200 million fines paid by five multinational firms which were implicated in the Halliburton bribery scandal, were paid directly into the Central Bank of Nigeria and not into the accounts of the Nigerian lawyers, who prosecuted the case.
Similarly, the five top Nigerian lawyers, who prosecuted the multinational firms were paid less than 10 percent of the amount recovered from the companies for cost of prosecution and professional fees.
One of the lawyers, Mr. Damian Dodo, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, who was quizzed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, last Thursday, confirmed to Vanguard that the amount, which runs into billions of Naira was not paid to the five lawyers but directly to the government.
“The case must be made clear that the five senior lawyers worked as a team and the fines received from the indicted companies were paid directly into designated Federal Government accounts with the CBN.
“The legal team was merely paid a small percentage, which was less than 10 percent of the fines paid by the companies to cover cost of prosecution and our legal fees,” the SAN said yesterday.
Dodo, who said they had nothing to hide in respect of the assignment they handled for the country, disclosed the details of the payments made by the indicted firms had been made available to the EFCC for proper guidance.
He added: “It is worth pointing out that relevant agencies of government were involved in the settlement agreements including the offices of the National Security Adviser and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
“The Secretary of the EFCC, Mr. Emmanuel Akomaye, witnessed three of the agreements, namely, Snamprogetti,Halliburton and Japan Gasoline Corporation on behalf of the Federal Government.’’
Dodo defended the payments made to them, arguing that the fees were legal.
Quoting from Clause six of the agreement reached with the Japan Gasoline Corporation, Dodo, said: “The Federal Government of Nigeria confirms that the reimbursement of the government legal costs to the designated counsel in the terms of the agreement is lawful under the Nigerian laws and regulations, and the government counsel has confirmed to the Federal Government of Nigeria that no proceeds of such reimbursement will be provided to any government officials”.
The senior lawyer explained that their brief was still subsisting as their mandate included negotiation and monitoring of the firms to ensure that they do not engage in any financial malpractice in Nigeria.