By Dotun Oloko
Dear Tom: Since I accused the private equity firm that you founded of corruption, fraud and money laundering, you have had me investigated; including covert surveillance, following me to my children’s school, my church, my homes in Nigeria and UK. Your investigator found me to be beyond reproach much to your chagrin. So now when I write to and about you, you will know that it is not because I have some previous grievance against you, your investors, investee companies or directors. History has recorded that foreign adventurers routinely portray their victims as sub species in order to justify their cruel exploitation. Foreign adventurers have long sought to portray Nigeria as corrupt in order to provide cover for colluding with our corrupt political elite to plunder our country’s resources like vultures. Nigeria is not unique in having a corrupt political elite but the vast majority of Nigerians are good, honest and decent people who do not deserve to be stereotyped by fortune hunters seeking to justify their cruel plundering. A stereotype that you sought to confirm when you had me investigated.
When I first came across your firm ECP (previously referred to as EMP) in the Ibori related October 2007 EFCC affidavit, I was curious. When I discovered that three out of the five companies named in the EFCC affidavit were ECP Africa Fund II portfolio companies I became suspicious. My suspicions deepened when I subsequently discovered that Oceanic bank, the fourth company named in the EFCC affidavit was the sole financier of the purchase of your investee company, Notore. On discovering that your subsidiary Frontier Markets Fund Manager Limited (FMFML) had invested in the fifth company, Celtel, my suspicion levels went off the scale.
You went to great lengths and expense to get me to meet with you in an attempt to convince me that I was wrongly accusing ECP of deliberately investing alongside known Ibori associates. I reluctantly agreed to a meeting in London in October 2009, but at that meeting when you turned to your sidekick Genevieve Sangudi and asked, “Who is the Ibori guy anyway?” or words to that effect, you confirmed my suspicions. Whether you love him or hate him, since before ECP’s entry into Nigeria James Ibori had bestrode the Nigerian political landscape like a colossus and for you to disdainfully feign ignorance of Ibori in the presence of a Sapele boy was an insult beyond compare. It beggars belief that you would claim to be an expert on Africa and Nigeria to your investors like the US Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) in order to make investments on their behalf in Nigeria, in companies like Notore, Oando and Intercontinental Bank alongside the likes of Henry Imasekha, Jite Okoloko, Wale Tinubu and Mike Orugbo and not know who James Ibori was.
Haba Tom, how do you explain the fact that you came all the way to London from America via Denmark to convince me that ECP could not possibly be linked to Ibori and not know who he was? Tom, were you not the one that wrote to IFU in Denmark in September 2009 and advised that,
“As you know, we engaged both legal counsel and a professional investigative company to do a thorough review of ECP’s Nigerian portfolio companies in order to satisfy ourselves (and our investors) that no merit exists as to any of the allegations put forth by Mr. Oloko regarding the Fund intentionally or inadvertently supporting corrupt practices including unethical political patronage. We provided this report to you and nothing in the meantime has come to our attention that supports Mr Oloko’s various allegations or in any way links ECP or its investee companies to “known corrupt Nigerian PEPs, including former Governor James Ibori””?
How then is it possible that you can claim in the following month not to know who Ibori was?
You should be aware Tom, that, the James Ibori you claimed not to know and have denied that your investee companies can be linked to is due to be sentenced in the UK on April 16 and 17. What odds are you prepared to offer that in the aftermath of such an epochal event, ECP will not be publicly linked to Ibori?