Group wants Halliburton, Eni SPa, Shell tried for bribery

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Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent a request to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Mr. Mohammed Adoke (SAN), asking him to use his good offices and leadership position to prosecute sixteen foreign companies involved in bribery in Nigeria.

The organization said it would seek leave of court for an order of mandamus to compel Mr Adoke to act if the companies are not prosecuted “within 14 (fourteen) days from the receipt and/or publication of this letter.”

The foreign companies listed in the letter to Mr Adoke are: Halliburton Co; Kellogg Brown & Root LLC (KBR); Technip SA; Snamprogetti Netherlands BV; ENI SpA; JGC Corp; MW Kellogg; Willbros International Julius Berger Nigeria Plc; Panalpina; Royal Dutch Shell Plc; Pride International; Noble Corp; Tidewater Inc; Transocean Inc; Shell Nigerian Exploration and Production Co. Ltd; and Siemens AG.

The letter dated 7 June 2012, and signed by the organization’s executive director Adetokunbo Mumuni reads in part: “It is well-known that these foreign companies have been involved in acts of bribery and corruption in Nigeria, and have paid huge compensation in their home countries where they have been found guilty of such practices. However, none of these companies have been prosecuted in Nigeria for those acts.”

“Yet, the Nigerian people have suffered more the effects of foreign bribery. Foreign bribery has caused immense damage and devastation to the economy and to institutions of governance, and directly undermined the full and effective enjoyment of internationally recognized human rights, especially economic, social and cultural rights by the citizens. Nigerians have not benefited from the large number of foreign bribery cases and investigations in OECD Convention countries that include allegations of bribery in Nigeria,” the organization also said.

According to the organization, “It is becoming a widely accepted principle that perpetrators of foreign bribery can be prosecuted in the country as long as the harmful effect of the acts of bribery is felt within the country. This is called the ‘harmful effects’ principle.”

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The organization also said that, “We believe that the lack of prosecution by the Nigerian government of the multinationals for proven foreign bribery constitutes a violation of the international legal rights of the deprived, and may itself constitute an international wrong.”

Citing several judicial authorities to support its position, the organization stated that, “The Appeal Court in Lesotho in a case involving the award of contracts to certain foreign companies following payment of bribery to official of Lesotho Highlands Development Authorities (LDHA), used the ‘harmful effects’ principle to assume jurisdiction over the foreign companies in Lesotho. The Supreme Court of Canada also used the same principle to exercise jurisdiction in similar cases.”

“Nigeria is a State party to the United Nations Convention against Corruption which mandates it to fight corruption at all levels, public and private. Chapter III, Article 21 and 30 of the Convention criminalizes acts of bribery and implores State Parties to prosecute such offences in accordance with the domestic laws of the State Parties,” the organization also added.

The organization also said that, “Under the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act (ICPC) 2000, bribery is a prosecutable offence. The ICPC Act, section 61(2), extends acts of bribery to not only acts done by a public official but any other person and is wide enough in its ambit to construe jurisdiction of prosecuting authorities to prosecute these foreign companies.”

“Foreign bribery in the country has uneven consequences against the vulnerable groups of the society, including the poor, women and children, perpetrating and institutionalizing discrimination. It also jeopardizes the needs and well-being of future generations,” the organization added.