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FBI videotaped Louisiana congressman bribing Nigerian official: affidavit

[JURIST] FBI agents videotaped US Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) [official website] last August accepting $100,000 in cash as a bribe from wealthy businesswoman Lori Mody for a Nigerian official, according to an FBI affidavit [PDF] made public Sunday. Mody was actually working as an FBI informant and FBI agents later found $90,000 of the cash in Jefferson's freezer. The search warrant affidavit served as the basis for an 18-hour FBI search of Jefferson's congressional office over the weekend. The document alleged that Jefferson planned to use the money to bribe a high-ranking Nigerian government official who agreed to help an American telecommunications company do business in Nigeria. Jefferson's attorney accused prosecutors of releasing the affidavit to purposely embarrass Jefferson because they have not yet charged Jefferson with any crime. In a speech last week, Jefferson defiantly claimed that he will fight any charges against him [Times-Picayune report].

Jefferson has continually maintained his innocence in the investigation for his role in helping Nigerian company Netlink Digital Television with Kentucky-based Internet venture iGate Incorporated [corporate website]. iGate owner Vernon Jackson, who faces up to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty [plea agreement, PDF; press release; Times-Picayune report] to paying more than $400,000 in bribes to a fake company controlled by Jefferson and his family in exchange for favors, has agreed to help the FBI as they investigate Jefferson's dealings with iGate. Jackson's bribes quickly led to contracts with the US Army to test iGate products, and later led to exposure to all of the federal agencies. Mody triggered the FBI investigation in March 2005 when she invested $3.5 million in iGate to acquire the rights to iGate's technology, but grew concerned when Jackson refused to comply. In addition, former Jefferson aide Brett Pfeffer plead guilty in January [Times-Picayune report] to bribery charges for his role. Reuters has more. The New Orleans Times-Picayune has local coverage.

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