FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
Jefferson: “I’m in the shadows behind the curtains somewhere.”
Former Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) cast as key player in the Mother of All Nigerian Scams
The jury trial of Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) continues. The story is starting to have a familiar ring: Dear Sir or Madam: I am Vice President ATIKU ABUBAKAR of Nigeria. I have obtained your contact through a close business associate who assured me of your utmost confidentiality, as a distinguished and highly tenured member of the U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES and the DEMOCRATIC PARTY, U.S.A. Through my office, I have obtained access to the sum of $718,000,000 (SEVEN HUNDRED EIGHTEEN MILLION U.S. DOLLARS ONLY); said funds cannot be expatriated to a foreign account due to the arcane banking and corruption laws in my country, thereby I am soliciting your indulgent assistance and utmost confidentiality in this matter…
ALEXANDRIA, VA. — On July 18, 2005, with an undercover FBI agent behind the wheel and an FBI cooperating witness wired for sound sitting by his side, U.S. Rep. William Jefferson said that Vice President Atiku Abubakar of Nigeria had agreed to grease the skids for a telecommunications venture the congressman was promoting in Nigeria in exchange for a piece of the action, according to tapes played at the corruption trial of the former nine-term congressman from New Orleans.
The taped conversation came on the ride back from a one-on-one meeting between Jefferson and Abubakar at a home the former Nigerian vice president owns in Potomac, Md., an upscale suburb of Washington, D.C. … On the tape and others played Monday, Jefferson, who speaks in his usual low, rushed mumble, was often barely audible. …
On that July day, Jefferson had traveled to Potomac with Mody, who by then was a cooperating witness for the FBI.
Jefferson had in late June sent a packet of information about the Nigeria deal to Abubakar and his fourth wife, Jamilah Jennifer Abubakar, who was living in the Potomac home. The packet included information as to how enormously profitable the Nigerian venture could be, with an estimated cumulative return of nearly $718 million by year five. In the packet, Jefferson also touted the good the Internet service would provide to Abubakar’s “beloved country, ” and indicated he was “soliciting” Abubakar’s “advice and support in moving this project forward.” [emphasis added] …
On [one] recording, [informant Lori] Mody also tells Jefferson she plans to set up for him a “discretionary expense account” — [FBI agent] Thibault called it a “discretionary bribe fund” — of between $200,000 and $1 million, so that Jefferson would have “that tool in your pocket.”