Whistleblower charges UK development agencies with gross maladminstration
Complaint submitted to UK Parliamentary Ombudsman

first published 8 May 2012

Nigerian anti-corruption whistleblower Dotun Oloko today accused  Britain’s Department of International Development (DfID) and its private sector arm, the CDC Group, of jeopardising criminal investigations into potential wrongdoing by two CDC-backed private equity funds, Emerging Capital Partners and Ethos.

In 2009, Mr Oloko supplied DfID with detailed information on investments by the two funds in companies alleged to have acted as money laundering fronts for James Ibori, the former Nigerian state governor who was sentenced last month for money laundering and fraud.

But instead of conducting an independent investigation into the allegations, DfID and CDC alerted the private equity funds.

In a complaint submitted to the UK Parliamentary Ombudsman, Mr Oloko argues that DfID and CDC “compounded this act of maladministration by declining to investigate discrepancies in the accounts that they had been given by the two funds, despite acknowledging the potential importance of such discrepancies”.

Mr Oloko also charges DfID/CDC with allowing his identity to be “unlawfully, negligently and recklessly betrayed to those I had named as suspected wrongdoers”. As a result, Mr Oloko has been unable to return to live in Nigeria for fear of his life, leading to the loss of his business and, ultimately, to his family (including his children) being placed under covert surveillance in the UK by Control Risks, a security firm acting on behalf of Emerging Capital Partners.

Mr Oloko said:

It is astonishing that at a time when the UK public are being asked to endure financial hardship DFID and CDC have failed and are still failing to refer credible allegations of fraud in excess of $30m in Funds supported by UK taxpayers, to the appropriate criminal investigation agencies. On the basis of the same information that I provided at great personal risk and, which DFID and CDC subsequently mishandled and dismissed, criminal investigations have commenced in multiple jurisdictions outside the UK.”

Mr Oloko’s member of Parliament, Caroline Lucas MP, said:

The failure of DfID and CDC to properly investigate the allegations made by Dotun Oloko, who bravely raised the alarm about CDC-backed investments in Nigeria despite the threat to his personal safety, casts serious doubt on the checks in place to prevent UK aid money from lining the pockets of corrupt individuals.

Furthermore, it is completely unacceptable that DfID was unable to protect the identity of this anti-corruption campaigner, resulting in his family being placed under covert surveillance right here on UK soil. It is fundamental to our Government's efforts to crack down on fraud that whistleblowers are able to come forward with impunity.”

Jamie Beagent of Leigh Day & Co, the solicitors who have advised on the Complaint, said:

Dotun Oloko is a very brave man who risked everything to alert the authorities to institutional corruption on a huge scale. His trust was betrayed by those very authorities and as a consequence he has lost his business and he and his family’s safety has been placed in jeopardy. I would urge the Ombudsman to carry out swift and thorough investigation into what went wrong, compensate Mr Oloko for what has happened to him and make recommendations to ensure this debacle is not repeated.”

For more information, see press release of 16 April 2012