UK court finds bizman guilty of bribing Nigerian official

UK court finds bizman guilty of bribing Nigerian official

Thursday, May 12, 2016 12:14 am

Peter Chapman: convicted for bribing a Nigerian

Peter Chapman: convicted for bribing a Nigerian

Proof of Nigeria’s ‘fantastic’ corruption was provided in a London court Wednesday when a jury found an Australian businessman guilty of offering a Nigerian mint official £136,000 to secure contract for his company.

Peter Chapman who worked for Australian mint company, Securency International will be sentenced Thursday.

A jury convicted him of making bribes to secure a Nigerian bank note printing contract after a judge warned a jury to ignore David Cameron’s controversial remarks about corruption.

Peter Chapman, 54, bribed Ehidiamhem Okoyomon, then head of the Nigerian mint to secure a ‘multi-million-euro’ contract for an Australian manufacturer that he managed.

His conviction comes a day after Mr Cameron’s toe-curling gaffe where he was caught on camera being indiscreet about the countries he had invited to a key anti-corruption summit tomorrow.

The Prime Minister was clutching a wine glass and making small talk with the Queen at a Buckingham Palace reception when he branded Nigeria ‘fantastically corrupt.’

Ehidiamhem Okoyomon: received the hundreds of thousand of dollars in bribes

Ehidiamhem Okoyomon: received the hundreds of thousand of dollars in bribes

But at Southwark Crown Court Judge Michael Grieve, QC, warned the jury that the Prime Minister’s remarks were ‘gross generalisation’.

The court heard that the central bank of Nigeria were making the political decision whether to convert bank notes from paper notes to polymer notes.

Chapman made payments totalling £136,000 between July 2007 and March 2009 to secure orders of polymer substrate for his company.

Chapman sent the money via a private company he used as a consultancy business to help agree oil contracts between Russia and the UK.

Before they returned their verdicts, jurors had been advised to ‘completely ignore’ the Prime Minister’s unguarded comments.

Judge Grieve told them: ‘You must try this case on the evidence before you in this court and nothing else. ‘I am doing so because of certain remarks made by the Prime Minister yesterday on the subject of corruption which have been widely reported by the press and other parts of the media.

‘You must completely ignore anything you may have seen or heard or read about what the Prime Minister said.

‘It was almost certainly a gross generalisation and certainly had no direct relevance to anyone involved in this case.’

Chapman sent the money in transactions to Ehidiamhem Okoyomon, now facing extradition proceedings in Nigeria, at the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Plc to secure the contract for his Securency International Pty Ltd.

John McGuinness QC, prosecuting on behalf of the Serious Fraud Office, said: ‘The prosecution say that they were effectively bribes to facilitate Securency getting orders.’

‘The first contract for Securency to supply polymer substrate so that it could be produced at the mint was in 2006 – further contracts and supplies followed.

‘This was a valuable business to Securency worth many millions of Euros.’
Chapman arranged for hundreds of thousands of dollars to be transferred through a web of offshore companies and accounts.

Payments initially went straight to Ehidiamhem Okoyomon from a company named Swingaxle that Chapman had registered in the Seychelles for ‘various side projects’.

Later bribes went by a more complicated route – to a company Okoyomon had set up using false documents including the photograph of an unwitting driver who worked for the mint.

Mr McGuinness added that as part of Chapman’s pay package he would be entitled to commission on deals that he had brokered.

At the time of the payments Securency were putting pressure on Chapman and other staff members to try and secure valuable contracts, Mr McGuinness said.

Chapman claimed the money he was paying was just paying back a loan made to him by Okoyomon to cover his expenses in Nigeria.

One of the companies involved in the money transfer claims to work in general contracting and janitorial services which would not have been needed if Chapman was just paying back a loan.

Chapman was known as being very particular for expenses – including making a claim for a £4.21 lunch – but there was no record of his claiming the expenses that he used as an excuse for the bribe payments.

Chapman, of Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, was found guilty of four counts of corruption and cleared of two other counts.

*Originally reported by Mail Online:

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