The Federal Government Tuesday accused the British lawyers involved in the handling of the money laundering cases against former Bayelsa and Plateau states’ governors, Diepreye Alamieyesiegha and Joshua Dariye in London of tampering with the recovered money.
This revelation came from the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Chief Michael Aondoaaka, SAN, who said investigations into the matter, has commenced in earnest.
Dariye, it would be recalled recently cried out alleging that the money declared by the British police and lawyers, as part of his alleged loot hidden in London, fell short of the total sum and assets seized from him by the London Police.
The British Police, handed over to the AGF, the sum of 300,000 pounds (about N76.5 million), being part of the money allegedly recovered from Dariye.
The Plateau State Attorney General, Justin Manomi was on hand to receive the money from the minister in the presence of the state Accountant General, Sylvester Davon.
Making the presentation, the minister accused the London-based law firm, which was contracted by the Federal Government to recovery the looted funds, of not remitting the money recovered from Dariye to the state government.
He further accused the law firm of illegally paying its legal fees from the recovered money.
But he refuted media report that the Plateau State government was on war path with the Federal Government over this.
His words: “The Plateau government is not at loggerheads with the AGF. A law firm was engaged in London to recover money from Dariye. The Candell Freeman firm collected money for Plateau State government but did not remit the money to the state government. They also paid themselves out of the money.
“The state government complained to the past AGF (Chief Bayo Ojo SAN), who contracted the law firm. Before the law firm could be asked why they paid themselves, the tenure of the former AGF had lapsed.
“I invited Freeman and told him that the money did not belong to the Federal Government and that Plateau State did not engage the lawyers. I told the law firm that they have to refund the money and seek approval for the money to be paid.
“I had a meeting with them and I told them that part of the money must be paid back to me. The president has directed me to hand over the money to the state government. The money is 300,000 pounds.”
Meanwhile, the minister said the lawyers had claimed to inform the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) about the alleged illegal transaction, adding, however, that he had not seen a single document signed by chairman of the commission, Nuhu Ribadu in respect of the alleged transaction.
He further disclosed that about 985,567 pounds (about N251.3million) recovered from Alamieyeseigha, which is to be returned to the Bayelsa State government remained unclaimed in London.
Giving a graphic detail of the recoveries made from Alamieyeseigha, Aondoakaa said the former governor’s apartment in South Africa was sold for 707,401 pounds 70 pence and the proceed of settlement of Falcon’s Flight being, 967,233 pounds, which brought all they got from the former Bayelsa governor to 1.674,634 pounds (about N408 million).
“They (foreign lawyers) told me that they have paid their bill from November 2006 to 2007, which was 614,67 pound and 16 pence (about N156.5 million). As of May 31, they could not have gotten approval to pay the bill because there was no AGF.
“After deducting their bill, they said what is left is 985,567.54 pounds. I don’t know why the money is not yet returned.
“On Plateau, the sale of Dariye’s London flat is said to have fetched 416, 755 pounds, 89 pence, proceeds of judgement on bank account is said to be 797, 638 pounds, 3 pence. They got total proceed from the judgment in the sum of 1.314,393 pounds (about N335 million).
“Candell Freeman spent 309,439 pounds, while 192 pounds was said to have been used in the storage of content in the flat. The due money for Plateau after the expenses is 904,961.51 pounds. They (lawyers) came again with other bills.
“The question to be asked is why was the money being kept in the hands of the British lawyers? We will investigate the whole thing. They said they informed the EFCC in the transaction, though I have not seen anywhere where they were asked to deduct the money. I will go with the Plateau AG to London to ask for the approval they got before deducting the money.”
– The sun