It was reported in Guardian Newspaper of 5th May 2015, that the Federal High Court, Abuja Division on the 4th of May 2015 granted the Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN) the right to proceed with plans to extradite the former Managing Director of the Nigeria Security Minting and Printing Company (NSMPC), Mr. Emmanuel Okoyomon to the United Kingdom (UK) to face bribery charges. The UK had requested for the extradition of Mr. Okoyomon to face bribery charges in the UK following an investigation into the activities and fall out of the bribery scandal involving the Central Bank of Nigeria, NSMPC and Securency International PTY Ltd, between 2006 and 2008.
Securency International PTY Ltd (“Securency”) is an Australian joint venture company co-owned by the Australian Reserve Bank and Innovia Films, a UK packaging company. Most importantly, UK companies face potential huge penalties and criminal prosecution under the UK Bribery Act 2010 for engaging in bribery of either private, public or voluntary organisations whilst transacting business overseas. The UK Bribery Act was established to detect, prevent and investigate incidents of bribery involving UK companies anywhere in the world. Under the Act the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) can carry out enforcement actions against any of the following persons;
- Relevant commercial organisations, that is body incorporated, or partnership formed, under the law of the UK and carries on a business anywhere, i.e. within the UK or elsewhere OR a body incorporated, or partnership formed, anywhere in the world but carries on any part of its business in the UK.
- An associated person – the employee, subsidiary, intermediary or supplier of an organisation who performs services for or on behalf of the organisation; so Securency International PTY Ltd as a subsidiary of Innovia Films, a UK packaging company, is liable to face potential investigations by the SFO under the Bribery Act.
- A foreign company that carries out business or part of a business within the UK.
- Any director and senior officer of the company where bribes are given and received by a body corporate with the consent or connivance of the director or senior officer. Note where the bribery occurred wholly outside the UK, the director may only be prosecuted if he or she has a close connection with the UK. Close connection is a terminology applied to certain category of individuals such as “British citizen, British overseas territories citizen, British National (Overseas), British Overseas citizen, person who under the British Nationality Act 1981 was a British subject, British protected person within the meaning of that Act, an individual ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom, a body incorporated under the law of any part of the United Kingdom, a Scottish partnership; etc.
Following an investigation into the activities of Securency concerning allegations of payment of bribes in order to secure contracts to supply to the NSMPC a product called polymer substrate on which bank notes were printed., the SFO applied to the Federal Republic of Nigeria for the extradition of a dual Nigerian and British national, Mr. Okoyomon to the UK. He is the former Managing Director of NSMPC, a party to the Bribery Scandal involving Securency and by virtue of his British citizenship can be prosecuted under the Act.
Following this recent decision by the Abuja division of the Federal High Court, Mr. Okoyomon through his counsel Dr. Alex Izinyon (SAN) has filed a stay of execution and a Notice of Appeal challenging this decision on the basis that Nigeria and the UK do not have an extradition treaty upon which he can be extradited to the UK to face bribery charges. What is your opinion regarding the Federal High Court’s decision on this issue and what are the lessons if any to be derived regarding corruption indictments of Nigerians by foreign countries. In Nigeria, a lot of individuals who have engaged in one form of corrupt practice or the other evade criminal prosecution. Will Mr. Okoyomon be that lucky?
post contributed by Uchechi Dibiaezue