On November 13, 2009, the U.S. District Court in Virginia, through Judge TS Ellis III, sentenced Congressman William J. Jefferson to 13 years in prison for bribery and corruption after a thorough investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
For “his stunning betrayal of public trust”, the court, in a 37-page document, charged Jefferson with eleven counts, including money laundering, racketeering and conspiracy with African governments in the purpose of promoting and extending its “telecommunications agreements in Nigeria, Ghana, and elsewhere; oil concessions in Equatorial Guinea; satellite transmission contracts in Botswana, Equatorial Guinea and the Republic of Congo; and the development of different factories and facilities in Nigeria”.
“His crimes included no less than eleven separate bribery schemes as well as a conspiracy involving an extraordinarily and historically unprecedented deal to bribe then-incumbent Vice President of Nigeria, Atiku Abubabar.”
Jefferson, a member of the Louisiana Democratic House of Representatives who described Abubabar as “truly corrupt”, had sold his office to Congress as a “criminal enterprise to enrich himself by soliciting and accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes -de-vin to support its business ventures in Africa”. .
The FBI, serving as reliable information for the court, had opened an investigation into Jefferson, having learned that a sitting member of Congress “was using his official position to solicit bribes from American companies interested in doing business. in Africa”.
In 2005, after consensual surveillance since the year 2000, court-authorized electronic surveillance, and analysis of financial records, the FBI concluded that Jefferson had been filmed taking $100,000 in cash from Lori Mody, a cooperating witness (CW) of the FBI, who had been the victim of the investment scheme with the iGate technology company owned by Vernon Jackson.
Mody, who owned a philanthropic educational technology foundation and whose mission was to bring technology to schools across the country, from his base in Virginia, had hired Brett Pfeffer, a former Jefferson aide, to help explore various business opportunities. investment to fund philanthropy. .
With the intention of investing so she could support her foundation, Mody had approached Jackson, the CEO of the Kentucky-based communications technology company iGate, which enabled audio, video and date to be transmitted over copper wires, for advice. Jackson demanded $3.5 million, which Mody paid Jackson, with the understanding that Jackson wanted to use it to acquire iGate’s exclusive rights from Netlink Digital Television (NDTV) to distribute iGate technology to the Nigeria.
On July 21, 2005, after Jefferson met Abubakar in person in Maryland on July 18, Jefferson and Mody visited a Tysons restaurant in Virginia to discuss the outcome of the Jefferson-Atiku findings on business plans.
In the first FBI surveillance videotape obtained by FIJ, Jefferson told Mody that Vice President Abubabar wanted to have a 12.5% interest in the money that would be collectively earned by iGate, Roscom.Net and a corporation. proposed company, according to Jefferson, would be his Nigerian company and would be named ‘W2-IBBS’.
“Do we have a deal with Nigeria, because this back and forth doesn’t make me feel like things have turned out? Do we have an agreement with, you know, with, you know, the vice president of Nigeria first? asked Mody.
“Uh, yeah, we have a deal with him,” Jefferson replied.
“Great, okay,” Mody said.
“Uh, I’m going to see him again before I go, and uh, we have a deal with him on the back end and, maybe, I know what we’re playing with…on the front end…” Jefferson said.
“Okay. Okay. Now, I think, uh, I think, I just want to make sure he wasn’t going to grow or get fat or… and make sure he’s going to do what he says. that he’s gonna do. He’s got your, you know, confidence and confidence. And that’s all I need to know,” Mody said.
“We spent a lot of time talking about it. I spent a lot of time thinking about it… There’s a lot more to the back than the front,” Jefferson said.
“I think it’s good that he has something up front, just like a motivator. So he doesn’t forget what he works for. That’s good,” Mody said.
Second CCTV released by the FBI also revealed that on the morning of July 30, 2005, Jefferson and Mody met at a hotel, the Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City, Arlington Virginia. FBI videotape obtained by FIJ revealed how Jefferson, who promised to use his ‘official acts’ in exchange for ‘things of value’, recovered a brown leather briefcase worth $100,000 from Mody, put in a reddish-brown cloth bag.
“Do you want to take a look at it, or anything?” Mody asked as Jefferson removed the briefcase from the trunk of the car.
“I wouldn’t,” replied Jefferson.
“Well, I hope that, uh, that’s exactly what the vice president needs to do, uh, work hard for us,” Mody said.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Jefferson said.
Mody, who later became the FBI informant, recounts in an affidavit filed in US District Court in Maryland that the $100,000 bribe was part of the “initial” $500 bribe. $000 to be paid to Vice President Atiku Abubakar, who promised them to support and endorse iGate’s Triple Play communications technology in Nigeria.
According to the 39-page affidavit signed by the US District Court in Maryland, Jefferson promised to communicate with President Olusegun Obasanjo and Vice President Atiku Abubakar in an effort to secure the iGate business venture in the country. The affidavit also mentions specific items said to be recovered from Abubakar’s home, including “cash in denominations of $100 or more” and “a new reddish-brown colored cloth bag” containing “a reddish-brown colored briefcase”. of a $100,000 bribe.
Jefferson also promised to send letters to Abubakar, asking for his help in convincing the government-owned telecommunications companies, namely NDTV and Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL), with Abubakar negotiating a 50% “back-end” profit from a Nigerian private partner. company, Roscom Telecommunications Nigeria Limited, and an “upfront” payment of $500,000 from Jefferson prior to commencing operations.
In William Jefferson’s “Letter to Vice President Atiku Abubakar”, Jefferson explained how “an American company wishes to invest over US$60,000,000 to provide high-speed Internet service in Nigeria through NITEL’s copper wire infrastructure . Under the proposal, there would be no cost to NITEL or the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.
“Rather, the project proposes to pay a substantial amount to NITEL for the use of its copper wire and for the co-location of D-Slam and switches at NITEL facilities of approximately $5,000,000 the first year ; 28,000,000 USD in the 2nd year; US$69,000,000 Year 3; 103,000,000 USD in the 4th year; and $106,000,000 in year five and thereafter. »
On July 15, 2005, Jefferson met Abubakar in person at his home at 9731 Sorrel Avenue, Potomac, Maryland 20854-4732. On August 1, 2005, Jefferson told Modi in cryptic language that “African art” ($100,000 partial bribe) had been delivered to Vice President Abubakar.
At a meeting in June 2004, Jefferson described Mody iGate’s Triple Play technology capable of providing audio, video and data transmission services to all subscribers in Nigeria. He also explained that iGate technology needed an investor for a company it planned to set up in Nigeria, which they (Jackson and Jefferson) said would cost $50 million.
Of the $100,000 given to Jefferson, the FBI found $90,000 in Jefferson’s freezer miserably wrapped in foil and concealed in pie crust boxes, when they raided his residence with permission of the court.
Edward S. Cooper, who had appeared as a witness cooperating with the FBI as “Lori Mody,” laid out other demands from Jefferson, who said Abubakar was determined to own 25% of the profits “on the back end” of the Nigerian company Roscom, whose Chairman and CEO, Suleiman Yahyah, was ready to cooperate to reach an agreement with the general manager of NITEL for iGate commercial agreements, and who was most obviously on Abubakar’s “back-end”.
In September 2006, then-President Olusegun Obasanjo sent a letter to the National Assembly regarding the bribery and corruption scandal between Jefferson and Abubakar, which triggered the investigation by the Commission on Economic and Financial Crimes (EFCC) under the supervision of Nuhu Ribadu regarding Abubakar’s money. theft from the Petroleum Trust Development Funds (PTDF).
In 2007, after Abubakar truncated the third term renewal of Obasanjo’s presidency, Obasanjo pointed out that Abubakar had diverted $145 million in PTDF funds to private companies, billions of which were transferred to NDTV as a telecom bribe to cooperate with Jackson-Jefferson iGate technology trading company in Nigeria.
A 323-page document from the US Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations indicates that between 2000 and 2008, Abubakar transferred $40 million to 30 US bank accounts, opened by Jennifer Douglas, his fourth wife, from offshore cooperations , of which $25 million was notably transferred by Guernsey Trust Company, Letsgo Ltd. and Sima Holding Ltd. to Douglas’ US Citibank account.
The subcommittee said wire transfers sent by Letsgo Ltd. totaled approximately $13.1 million, while wire transfers sent by the Guernsey Trust Company totaled approximately $900,000. The report also states that $14 million was part of offshore transfers made by Abubakar to the American University to help him found his own American University of Nigeria (AUN) in Yobe State in 2003.
In the 2008 letter from American University legal counsel, the subcommittee quoted as follows:
“Mr. Abubakar made payments, through Letsgo Ltd. and Guernsey Trust Company on behalf of AUN for services performed by American pursuant to the 2003 agreement. American received payments from Letsgo totaling 13 $149,758 and from the Guernsey Trust Company amounting to $900,000. [University] did not have [other] relationship with these companies.
The IFJ contacted Mr. Adejare Egunjobi, then NTDV’s Abuja Accounting Officer, on whose behalf Jefferson had written a letter on March 3, 2004 to the Consular Section of the US Consulate General in Lagos, for permission to come to New York. to complete the iGate broadband telecommunications project. All he could say on the phone was “wrong number”.