Former Chief of Air Staff, Abdullahi Dominic Bello, has denied involvement in the $182 million Halliburton bribery scandal.
Bello, who is also the Chairman of South-south international magazine, said it was painful that some media houses were still mentioning his name in the scandal in spite of the attempts he had made to set the records straight.
A statement issued on his behalf yesterday by the Editor-in-Chief of the magazine, Ovie Edomi, Bello stated that he was erroneously linked with the $180 million Halliburton bribe scandal.
“This can be verified from Mr Jeffery Tesler, who though is serving jail term in the United States, sent an e-mail to clear AVM Bello of any involvement when the issue relating to prosecuting the principal suspects came up in Nigeria and US.
“Indeed our Chairman, AVM A.D Bello, has no hand in the Halliburton deal. The fact is that investigators in Nigeria erroneously linked TriStar Investment, an offshore company incorporated in Gibraltar, Spain in October 19, 1989, which the former Chief of Air Staff had the power of attorney to operate in Nigeria with an account opened with the defunct Royal Bank of New York in Geneva.
“The company which AVM Bello operated in Nigeria was engaged in air lifting of oil workers from different locations to oil fields amongst other services and for a long time, TriStar Investment became a household name/brand linked with AVM Bello just as Newswatch is linked with Ray Ekpu, Dan Agbese and others despite the fact that Jimoh Ibrahim has bought it over.
“But more importantly, AVM Bello stopped operating the off shore company in 2000 when he took ill and he instructed his lawyer (Mr. Jeffery Tesler) to wine-up the company while he equally closed the foreign account operated by TriStar with Royal Bank of New York in Geneva. He (Air Vice Marshal A.D Bello) had no other foreign account in any other bank either in Lloyds bank of London, HSBC or American Express bank as claimed in most media reports. This can be verified from the banks,” Edomi clarified.
He added that unknown to Bello, a company with the same name (TriStar Investment) was incorporated in Merdera, Portugal by Tesler, and it was the alleged company used for the Halliburton deal.
Continuing, Edomi stressed that: “We believe foreign and local media who cared to do in-depth investigation on this issue know for a fact that our Chairman, AVM Bello has no hand in this matter but was only linked with it because the name TriStar Investment is a company name that has long been associated with the retired Airforce chief.
“Meanwhile, we wish to state also that the foreign account which TriStar operated with the Royal Bank of New York in Geneva now liquidated, had long been closed before the issue relating to $180million Halliburton deal came up.”
He further noted that investigations conducted in the United States and by the police of the world, through the law enforcement agencies, did not in any way link Bello with the Halliburton scandal.
The statement added that: “When AVM Bello’s name was mentioned in the Halliburton bribe scandal in Nigeria, he went to the EFCC and the Nigeria Police to clear himself. The anti-corruption agency as well as the police saw things for themselves but for the record to be set straight and in order to redeem his good name earned over a long period of time, he filed a suit at the High Court of Lagos (Suit No LD/1423/2010) against the Federal Government in 2010.The matter is still in court.”