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THE UNITED STATES SENATE REPORT AND THE NIGERIAN PRESIDENCY

PHOTO: FORMER VICE PRESIDENT ATIKU ABUBAKAR.
PHOTO: FORMER VICE PRESIDENT ATIKU ABUBAKAR.
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I am very concerned about the influence that the US Senate Report titled “KEEPING FOREIGN CORRUPTION OUT OF THE UNITED STATES: FOUR CASE HISTORIES” is having on the pending PDP primaries in Nigeria scheduled for January 13, 2011. I will assume that the reader is familiar with the report as it relates to former Nigerian Vice President Atiku Abubakar and his wife Jennifer Douglas-Abubakar.

The US Senate Report is being touted in Nigerian media outlets as an arrest warrant and/or current legal indictment against Atiku and Jennifer Douglas Abubakar, which is the farthest thing from the truth. The report has become a major Presidential campaign issue and has the potential of being viewed in the North as the United States favoring President Goodluck Jonathon, a Christian, over the presidential ambitions of Atiku Abubakar, a Moslem. This is a recipe for major unrest throughout Nigeria.

The agency responsible for the investigative report - THE PERMANENT SUBCOMMITTEE ON INVESTIGATIONS, Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Carl Levin, Chairman and Tom Coburn, Ranking Minority Member need to immediately, before the PDP primaries on January 13, 2011, have a statement issued by the US Department of Justice that Atiku Abubakar and Jennifer Douglas Abubakar are not the targets of a criminal investigation in the US with regards to the US Senate Report.

In my opinion the United States government would be contributing to a potential humanitarian disaster and a post-election apocalypse in Nigeria if they choose to remain silent on this crucial point.

I am therefore appealing to the US Diplomatic Mission in Abuja for prompt intervention in this matter to have a definitive statement issued by the US Department of Justice and/or some other relevant agency to address this concern with all deliberate speed.

This is a simple action that will demonstrate that the United States government is not trying to unduly influence the outcome of the Nigerian Presidential election and could have a tremendous effect in post-election stability.

My concern is based on an in-depth analysis of the US Senate Report which reveals a very disturbing and deliberate pattern of unsubstantiated “context” indictments against Atiku Abubakar and Jennifer Douglas Abubakar by the authors of the investigation who have chosen to label the source of Atiku Abubakar’s substantial wealth as suspect; they then go own to paint all subsequent financial transactions involving the Abubakar’s as being from “suspect funds”.

While the report is quite detailed in documenting the transfer of funds into the Abubakar’s United States accounts, it uses these facts in a highly prejudicial manner to draw conclusions that the transfers were not transparent and somehow formed the basis for illegal activity; which is false and misleading. The report’s conclusion clearly verifies that the Abubakar’s worked within the existing frame work of US banking regulations regarding all of their financial transactions.

As incredible as it may seem one sentence, that being, “Over the years, questions have been raised about the source of Mr. Abubakar’s wealth” is the US Senate Report’s sole basis for the label “suspect funds”; this one sentence is the genesis of all the unfounded allegations that follow in the investigative report. Think about it, this one sentence is the only clue given in the entire investigative report to help define the term “suspect funds”, this is simply astonishing!!! The term is used not only in the title of the case study, but three subsequent times on page one alone; all resting firmly on the foundation of that one sentence “Over the years, questions have been raised about the source of Mr. Abubakar’s wealth.”

The term “suspect funds” is used no less than fifteen times throughout the report but is never definitively defined in the body of the report or the reports footnotes, but is inserted strategically so that in “context” would imply nefarious activity on behalf of the Abubakar’s. This is significant because great care and diligence have been given to define other terms such as “Blind Trust”, the report has highlighted footnotes, provided web links, and gone to great lengths to document its sources; but the most damning term used in the report, the term used to shape the context of this investigation fails to be defined, while being used as a slanderous indictment of the Abubakar’s activities to fund and establish one of Nigeria’s premiere institutions of higher education the American University of Nigeria “AUN”.

Please see below how this “context” indictment is structure beginning with the first page of the US Senate Report; note how in the body of the report when the term “suspect funds” is used it is either preceded or followed by a significant amount of money:

ABUBAKAR CASE STUDY: USING OFFSHORE COMPANIESTO BRING SUSPECT FUNDS INTO THE UNITED STATES

Jennifer Douglas Abubakar, a U.S. citizen, is the fourth wife of Atiku Abubakar, theformer Vice President of Nigeria and a former candidate for the Presidency of Nigeria. This case history examines how, from 2000 to 2008, Ms. Douglas helped her husband bring over $4 million in suspect funds into the United States, including at least $1.7 million in bribe payments from Siemens AG, a German corporation, and over $38 million from little known offshore corporations, primarily LetsGo Ltd. Inc., Guernsey Trust Company Nigeria Ltd., and Sima Holding Ltd.

Over half of the suspect funds, nearly $25 million, were wire transferred by the offshorecorporations into U.S. bank accounts opened by Ms. Douglas. For most of the time period examined, the U.S. banks with those accounts were unaware of Ms. Douglas’ PEP status, and allowed multiple large wire transfers into her accounts from the offshore corporations. As, over time, each of the banks began to question the wire transfers into her accounts, Ms. Douglas indicated that all of the funds came from her husband and professed little familiarity with the offshore corporations actually sending her money.

Bank records indicate that Ms. Douglas used most of the funds placed into her accountsto support a lavish lifestyle in the United States, paying credit card bills and household expenses in the range of $10,000 to $90,000 per month, including substantial legal and accounting bills. She also transferred funds to accounts she opened for the Gede Foundation, a nonprofit corporation she established in 2002, and the American University of Nigeria (AUN), a university that Mr. Abubakar founded in 2003, and whose name reflects its association with American University in the United States.

An additional $14 million of the suspect funds were wire transferred by two of the offshore corporations, LetsGo and the Guernsey Trust Company, to American University to pay for consulting fees related to AUN. American University officials told the Subcommittee that they understood the funds came from Mr. Abubakar and never inquired why the wire transfers were sent by unfamiliar offshore corporations. At least another $2.1 million was wire transferred by the Guernsey Trust Corporation to accounts controlled by Edward Weidenfeld, a U.S. lawyer who provided legal services to Ms. Douglas, Mr. Abubakar, and AUN. Mr. Weidenfeld explained that the funds paid for the Abubakars’ legal expenses and an account set up for AUN, and that he had assumed the funds came from Mr. Abubakar.

Over the years, questions have been raised about the source of Mr. Abubakar’s wealth.He spent twenty years in the Nigerian Customs Service, and then worked in the private sector for ten years, before serving as Vice President of Nigeria from 1999 to 2007.The investigation was extremely biased and highly prejudicial toward the Abubakar’s procedures of transferring funds to the United States to cover legal and other expenses associated with AUN, as well as living expenses for Mrs Abubakar. These funds were labeled “suspect funds” with no basis in fact as the Abubakar’s and their legal counsel were very forthcoming and cooperative with information as to the source of the funds. The misleading allegations contained in the US Senate Report are now being promoted and referenced in several aggressive slanderous political campaigns in the Nigerian media, including AIT, NTA, newspapers and radio to derail Atiku Abubakar’s quest for the Presidency of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

This issue must be addressed immediately by the US Diplomatic Mission in Abuja to avoid the perception that the US Senate Report is a preplanned attack by covert interest opposed to the Presidential aspirations of Atiku Abubakar.


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