Jefferson Probe Includes Other Suspected Schemes
Sunday, May 28, 2006
The FBI is focusing on at least eight different suspected bribery schemes as part of its corruption probe of Rep. William J. Jefferson (D-La.), according to a federal affidavit and sources familiar with the investigation.
A key part of the FBI probe has centered around Jefferson's dealings with a Louisville high-tech company, iGate Inc., that was marketing broadband technology for the Internet and cable television in Africa.
But an affidavit used in last weekend's controversial search of Jefferson's Capitol Hill office stated that authorities are looking at "at least seven other" bribery schemes in which Jefferson "sought things of value in return for his performance of official acts."
Some of those schemes may be beyond the statute of limitations but could help show a pattern, according to a person familiar with the investigation. The records and materials seized during the FBI raid could shed more light on these areas, according to the affidavit.
Investigators are looking at a number of companies listed under the names of Jefferson, his wife or other relatives, according to court documents.
Since January, two people, including iGate's owner, Vernon L. Jackson, have pleaded guilty to bribing him.
Federal authorities have alleged in court documents that Jefferson took more than $500,000 in bribes in exchange for using his official position to promote iGate's technology in Nigeria, Ghana and Cameroon. The FBI said it videotaped Jefferson taking a $100,000 payoff on July 30, 2005.
The affidavit discloses an alleged scheme in which Jefferson introduced officials from Netlink Digital Television (NDTV), a Nigerian company, to Jackson.
NDTV agreed to pay iGate nearly $45 million for the right to use its technology and to distribute it in Nigeria. The affidavit alleges that Jefferson, without iGate's knowledge, separately negotiated with NDTV officials to receive $5 for each subscriber in "return for Jefferson's official assistance if the deal was successful."
In early January 2004, NDTV canceled the deal with iGate. An Aug. 3 raid on Jefferson's apartment turned up a letter from NDTV's law firm concluding that "Jefferson, Vernon Jackson" and others had violated Nigerian laws.
The letter also stated: "I have also attached a list of your bank accounts through which you insisted that money be paid (which it was) to you in relation to the iGate-NDTV transaction."
It is unclear whether the money was paid, according to the FBI affidavit.