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French defense firms fined for bribing Nigerian officials

September 7, 2012 (TSR) – A Paris court has fined a French aeronautics and defence company to the sum of 500,000 euros ($630,000) for bribing Nigerian officials to secure a huge ID card contract, Press TV reports.

The judgment, delivered on Wednesday, was based on the findings of the investigating magistrates that Safran, known as SAGEM until it merged with competitor SNECMA in 2005, paid bribes ranging from 24,000 to 40,000 euros ($30,000 to $500,000) to Nigerian officials between 2000 and 2003 to secure a 171-million-euro ($218 million) contract to produce more than 70 million national identity cards for the West African country.

The bribes were paid to then Nigerian Minister of Internal Affairs, late Chief Sunday Afolabi, and his successor, Mohammed Shata, and former Minister of Labour, Hussain Akwanga.

The court, however, acquitted former commercial engineer of SAGEM in Nigeria, Jean-Pierre Delarue, 65, then a sales manager with the company in Nigeria, and Francois Perrachon, 57, then the company’s director for identification systems in Paris, of wrongdoing.

French aeronautics and defence group Safran has been fined by a Paris court for bribing public officials in Nigeria to win a contract in 2000/03.

Safran, which is 30%-owned by the French state, said it would appeal against the ruling.

“Safran would like to point out that it is deeply attached to the strict respect of anti-corruption rules,” it said.

The scandal came to global focus in 2005, when former president Olusegun Obasanjo said that SAGEM paid bribes and presented gifts, including Rolex watches to Nigerian officials to win the identity card contract.

The late Afolabi, who had championed the national identity card project for the 2003 general election, was arrested by the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission on December 5, 2003, during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

Shortly after his arrest, Afolabi was arraigned along with Shata and Akwanga for demanding bribes of about $2 million from SAGEM, in addition to receiving various gifts, to award the contract to the French firm.

Afolabi later died of cancer in London in May 2004, and all the charges against him were dropped in June 2004.

Source: Press TV

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