- Posted January 28, 2014 by
FRAUD: Spaniard begs EFCC, IGP to probe N3.6bn contract fraud in Imo State
In what seems to be an ongoing game of the titans and a conspiracy to defraud the Imo state of Nigeria, a Spanish contractor, Mr. Jose Lopez-Pepe, has petitioned the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, through his lawyer, Abiodun Oduwole, urging it to probe alleged N3.6 billion contract fraud in Imo State.
The Spaniard alleged that during a business trip to procure technical drawings and other equipment for the contract valued at about N3.6 billion, one Mr Emmanuel Emenike, who is the Managing Director of a company, Hormipresa Nigeria Ltd, collected part payment for the project. He added that rather than informing him or executing the project, Mr. Emmanuel resolved to buying several exotic cars to add to his fleets.
According to documents related to the contract made available to the press, Mr. Jose Lopez-Pepe, had on December 1, 2011 written to the Imo state government to introduce Hormipresa Nigeria Ltd as a sister company and requested that an advance payment of 30% of the total money involved in the contract be paid to them (Hormipresa).
The said amount was however paid by the Imo state government to Mr Emenike but Mr. Jose Lopez-Pepe insist that he never received the payment by the state government for the job. He however, begged the IGP and the anti-graft agency to investigate his Nigerian partner and some officials of Imo State government and make them account for the project funds.
Through his legal counsel, Mr. Jose has filed a second petition to office of the Inspector general of Police owing to what he called a delay justice from the initial petition. The petition which reads in part;
DEMAND FOR JUSTICE AGAINST MR. EMMANUEL BENJAMIN EMENIKE FOR DEFAMATION OF CHARACTER, LIBEL AND SLANDER
1. We write as solicitors to Mr. Jose Marin Lopez-Pepe, hereinafter referred to as our client. You recall, Sir, that our client had written a petition against the above named person to your office, dated June 14, 2013, but to which we are yet to see any action or reaction from your good office. However, we are inclined to write yet another one, following Mr. Emenike’s continued onslaught against our client via the media. He continues to defame our client severally, especially in print and electronic media. Examples of such publication are the June 12, 2013 publication inThe Trumpetter, titled “Spaniard in police net over €1.6m contract sum”, echoed by other national papers, wherein he sponsored a story which maliciously and falsely alleged that our client was arrested in Lagos while attempting to escape from Nigeria. On November 5, 2013, another publication sponsored by him on the Leadership website, titled “Imo: Untold Story Of Controversial N3.5 Billion Project”, surfaced on the Internet, wherein he defamed our client in an undignifying manner.
2. This petition is to bring his unrepentant media misfiring to your attention, and kindly ensure that the right of our client not to be maliciously defamed is protected. We have provided the true state of events as response to every assertion in the latter referenced publication below.
3. Firstly, he claimed that Mr. Marin Lopez-Pepe is a Director at Hormipresa Nigeria Ltd. It must be stated unequivocally that this is not true, as our client was never presented with any document to sign or append his consent as Director at Hormipresa Nigeria Limited at any time. During investigation at the Interpol sometime last year, however, his lawyer informed the Police that they had forged our client’s signature on the incorporation documents. In fact, to make this singular assertion is libelous as it is an attempt to bring the name of our client in disrepute by linking him with a company that is known for widespread fraud and unprofessional handling of contract funds. Needless to say that our client’s business partners and associates from all over the world have started distancing themselves from our client as a result of this unholy and forced marriage, which is merely a figment of the imagination of Mr. Banjamin Emenike, synonymous to a sinking man looking for other persons to pull along. Our client had merely introduced Hormipresa Nigeria Limited and its Managing Director, Mr. Emenike, to Imo State Government as agent/facilitator of his contract. They however fraudulently conned our client out of his contract and embezzled his contract proceeds.
4. He further claimed that he sent some funds to our client’s account in Spain and wants our client to refund same. He however failed to state that he sent stop orders on the money and it was returned to him. He also failed to state that he adopted money laundering means to transfer the said funds. One would expect that, since the company had bank account in Nigeria, and the money was paid into that account, any transfer would have been done directly as an inter-bank transfer. Rather, Mr. Emenike contracted bureau de change agents for the transfer, all in a deliberate attempt to cause confusion and exercise a legitimate claim to have the money recalled. Conversely, and correctly, our client never had access to the funds in Spain because of the suspicious manner in which the funds were sent to him. Most importantly, the funds were transferred to his account by companies (bureau de change agents) not connected to the project. Thus, when our client was asked for explanation by his bankers, he was not able to link the source of the funds with himself, thereby resulting in his bankers refusing our client access to the funds and flagging it for money laundery.
The petition and all other documents relating to the contract were made available to the press through a source who pleaded anonymity.
According to Mr Jose’s legal counsels, It was when the pressure became heightened, that Mr. Emenike resorted to using his money laundering contacts also facilitated by Mrs. Grace Okparaeche to launder money into Mr. Lopez-Pepe’s accounts in Spain, in order to frustrate him and put him in trouble with Spanish governments. “He made a number of transactions where he transferred money from a Nigerian account to a Spanish account through Hong Kong, Russia and London, and through unknown, unregistered and spurious companies, thereby making such funds flagged for money laundering. Of course, these moneys are trapped in Spain for further investigation as they do not emanate from clear and direct sources” the statement read.
At the moment, Mr. Marin Lopez-Pepe’s accounts have also been frozen. The total amount of money sent to Mr. Marin Lopez-Pepe’s account is about 1.8 Million Euros. Due to the suspicious manner in which the moneys were being transferred, Barclays Bank, UK, refunded 500,000 Euros to Mr. Benjamin Emenike, claiming that the transaction could not be followed through because it had money laundering patterns to which they would not be a party. Meanwhile, Mr. Marin Lopez-Pepe was advised by his bankers in Spain that only a letter from Imo State Government could ensure that the monies are indeed released to him.
Unfortunately, Mr. Benjamin Emenike according to the same source had connived with a Government official and a Legal Director at Rochas Foundation who prepares legal documentation for Imo State government, to prepare a spurious award letter in favour of Hormipresa Nigeria Limited, for the same contract. Thus, two awards were purportedly made by the state government on the same project. The first award, made to NIFPS, was duly accepted, supported by a contract agreed to by both Imo State Government and NIFPS and duly executed by the Secretary to the State Government. The second award offer purportedly made to Hormipresa was merely signed by the Principal Secretary to the State Governor.
More than anything else however, the prayer of Mr. Jose is for justice to be done by way of investigation and prosecution of whoever emerges as the culprit, either himself or Mr Emenike.