The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) have announced that they were filing a civil complaint against Nigeria’s former oil minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, and two oil businessmen.
The complaint is seeking the forfeiture and recovery of an estimated $144 million in assets owned by the three. The properties are believed to have been acquired from of foreign corruption offences and money laundering.
Top officials of the U.S. who made the announcement said the instituted processes were part of ensuring that the country will not be used as a haven for proceeds from corruption.
Corrupt foreign officials and business executives should make no mistake: if illicit funds are within the reach of the United States, we will seek to forfeit them and to return them to the victims from whom they were stolen.
“The United States is not a safe haven for the proceeds of corruption,” acting Assistant Attorney General Blanco said. He added: “The complaint announced today demonstrates the Department’s commitment to working with our law enforcement partners around the globe to trace and recover the proceeds of corruption, no matter the source.
‘‘Corrupt foreign officials and business executives should make no mistake: if illicit funds are within the reach of the United States, we will seek to forfeit them and to return them to the victims from whom they were stolen.”
Details of the complaint states that over a four year period spanning 2011 – 2015, the former minister used for influence as sector minister to secure lucrative oil contracts to companies owned by Kolawole Akanni Aluko and Olajide Omokore.
The authorities allege that proceeds from the said contracts were laundered in and through the United States and used to purchase most of the assets they wanted forfeited.
The assets in question include a $50 million condominium located in one of Manhattan’s most expensive buildings —157 W. 57th Street — as well as a yacht, the Galactica Star, valued at $80 million.
The United Kingdom authorities in February this year announced that Alison-Madueke’s trial on charges relating to alleged corrupt practices was due to open last month. The Minister is to be tried along with four other accomplices.
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.
Also in February, a Federal High Court in 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.