Reporters Bruce Alpert and Jonathan Tilove at the New Orleans Times-Picayune found a WikiLeaks cable with a tie to ex-Congressman William Jefferson’s prosecution for bribery and FCPA-related offenses.
The internal State Department assessment from 2005 said Nigeria’s ‘then-president, Olusegun Obasanjo, was hoping the FBI would get the dirt on Vice President Atiku Abubakar and his wife, Jennifer Douglas, as part of its probe of Jefferson, thereby derailing Abubakar’s expected run for president,’ according to the Times-Picayune story.
The secret cable was written four months after the FBI found $90,000 cash in Jefferson’s freezer. The DOJ said Jefferson planned to use the money to bribe Vice President Abubakar in exchange for a telecommuinications contract for a Jefferson-linked company.
After an eight-week trial in Alexandria, Virginia, a jury acquitted Jefferson in 2009 of the only substantive FCPA charge he faced. But he was convicted on 11 other counts, including conspiracy to violate the FCPA. He was also found guilty of soliciting and taking bribes, depriving citizens of honest services, money laundering and racketeering, and conspiracy to solicit bribes.
Jefferson, 64, a former nine-term congressman from Louisiana, was sentenced to 13 years in prison. He’s free pending his appeal to the U.S. Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Virginia.
Abubakar failed to gain Nigeria’s presidency in 2007 and 2011, the Times-Picayune said.
The cable was classified ‘secret’ by Consul General Brian L. Browne at the U.S. Consulate in Lagos.
View an extract from the September 14, 2005 cable ‘Nigerian VP’s Political Future Dims’ here.