Former Nigerian oil minister Diezani Alison-Madueke has been charged with money laundering, the country’s financial crimes agency said on Wednesday.
Alison-Madueke, described as “at large” on the charge sheet, was accused of bribing members of the National Electoral Commission (INEC) before the 2015 national election, according to a statement by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
She was not present to enter a plea when the charges were read out at the Federal High Court in Lagos.
Mrs Alison-Madueke was arrested in October 2015, in London, as part of a UK investigation into suspicions of corruption and large-scale laundering. At the time, she was undergoing treatment for breast cancer.
In February, a Federal High Court in Nigeria’s commercial capital, Lagos, issued an order allowing the country’s anti-graft body to confiscate over $150m belonging to her.
According to Judge Muslim Hassan, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had proven beyond reasonable doubt that the monies were proceeds from illegal activity.
Ms Alison-Madueke, 56, has already been implicated on several occasions in corruption cases. Under her watch, the former Central Bank governor, Lamido Sanusi – now the emir of Kano – had revealed that there was a shortage of $20 billion in oil revenues in the state coffers.
A reporter with the Nation quoted an anonymous source at the EFCC as saying, they were ready with overwhelming evidence to support the trial, he also dismissed reports that they were negotiating a settlement with the ex-Minister.
She is said to have diverted funds from the state oil firm, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and placed in three banks.
The former minister, appointed by former President Goodluck Jonathan, has consistently denied that she diverted these public funds, claiming that she did not have access to the NNPC’s treasury.
The Central Bank of Nigeria announced in May 2016 that it was participating in the investigation into corruption targeting the former oil minister.