Ex-Political Aide Pleads Guilty to Bribery

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) Jan 11, 2006 — A Louisiana congressman demanded bribes in exchange for his help in promoting a pair of business deals in Africa, according to court documents filed with a guilty plea by one of the congressman’s former staffers.

Brett Pfeffer, 37, a former legislative director to Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting bribery of a public official and conspiracy. He could get 20 years in prison when sentenced March 31.

A spokeswoman for Jefferson declined to comment.

U. S. Congressman, William Jennings Jefferson, D- La, arrives at a press event at Kurhaus in Scheveningen, the Netherlands. A delegation of 50 U.S. government officials, academics and business representatives began a three-day tour in the Netherlands Tuesday to study flood prevention techniques in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. AP Photo/Bas Czerwinski

The conspiracy took place in 2004 and 2005, years after Pfeffer had left Jefferson’s office, according to authorities.

Pfeffer said in court that a congressman had solicited his assistance in promoting business opportunities in Nigeria and Ghana. The congressmen demanded 5 percent to 7 percent of the newly formed African companies in exchange for his help promoting the deal to African government officials and others, according to Pfeffer.

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Prosecutors have been investigating Jefferson in connection with a telecommunications deal involving a Kentucky-based company that specialized in providing high-speed Internet access over Nigeria’s copper telephone wires.

The FBI raided Jefferson’s home in August and, according to published reports, carted off cash from a freezer.

The FBI also raided the Maryland home of Nigerian Vice President Atiku Abubakar, seeking documents connecting him and his wife to the congressman and the telecommunications deal.

Interpol probe Atiku’s role in Jefferson deal * Documents contradict minister’s claim on transaction

FBI agents searched the vice president’s home in Montgomery County, Maryland, USA on August 3 and according to the source, Interpol was also investigating the vice president’s financial dealings within and outside Nigeria.

It would assist FBI’s probe into information that Jefferson reportedly tried to get Atiku to influence the award of a contract sought by an American company from Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL).

The company, iGate, was reportedly bidding to build the pilot scheme of a high-speed broadband telecommunications technology system for NITEL in the country.

FBI investigators, who conducted a sting operation on the congressman over the past one year, are trying to ascertain whether Jefferson received bribes from the investors, which were then passed to Nigerian government officials, including Atiku and possibly Ghanaian Vice President Aliu Mahama.

Meanwhile, documentary evidence available to Saturday Punch has contradicted claims by the Minister of Communications, Chief Cornelius Adebayo, that the ministry neither had any dealing with Jefferson nor the American company.

Saturday Punch obtained a letter dated August 24, 2005 and signed by an official of the ministry, Dr. M.N Haruna, which confirmed that there was some communication between NITEL and a Nigerian company, Rosecom.net, representing the American firm.

NITEL: Nigerian Gov’t orders fresh bid

“Treason doth never prosper: what’s the reason?
For if it prosper, none dare call it treason.”

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