The Federal Government today revoked its last contract with Siemens and suspended dealings with the industrial group pending a probe into allegations it gave 10 million euros ($14.6 million) in bribes, the government said on Wednesday.
A German court fined Siemens 201 million euros on Oct. 4 for bribes paid to Nigerian, Russian and Libyan officials by a former manager of one of the group’s telecoms equipment units.
Details were not made public at the time, but the Wall Street Journal reported details of the Munich court ruling last month. It said five Nigerian former ministers and senior officials were involved.
President Umaru Yar’Adua, who took office on May 29 on pledges of zero tolerance for corruption, said he had ordered security agencies to investigate and take appropriate action.
Information and Communications Minister John Odey said the government decided to cancel the 128.4 million naira ($1.08 million) contract for the supply of circuit breakers and other power generation accessories, as a first step towards blacklisting Siemens.
“Council today cancelled the contract bid won by Siemens Nigeria Ltd because of the current investigation against the company relating to corrupt practices,” Odey told reporters after a cabinet meeting in the capital Abuja.
“Government will not have any dealings with Siemens Nigeria Ltd in terms of contracts until the investigation is concluded and the company is exonerated or otherwise,” Odey said.
Several of the ex-ministers and top officials named in the German court ruling have denied they took bribes. The company has said it accepts the German court’s judgment.
The ruling, according to details reported by the Wall Street Journal, focuses on bribes paid between 2001 and 2004, ranging from 2,000 euros to 2.25 million euros, given to senior government officials in Nigeria, Libya and Russia.
About 10 million euros went to the Nigerians, it said.
The newspaper said Siemens sold telecoms equipment in Nigeria, but the ruling did not specify what contracts Siemens was seeking. It also did not say what, if anything, the recipients of Siemens’s money did in exchange for it.
Yar’Adua anti-graft posture in one of the world’s most corrupt countries has been undermined by a series of scandals.
The speaker of the House of Representatives was forced to step down after being found to have improperly awarded contracts worth $5 million for the renovation of her official residence and that of her deputy.
Anti-corruption police have charged five ex-state governors with embezzlement and have said they are investigating several others, though there has been no conviction. (Writing by Tume Ahemba; editing by Elizabeth Piper)
– Agency Report