The United States Department of Justicehas revealed the final resolution of two civil cases in forfeiture of the luxury assets that were laundered in and through Nigeria in a case linking former minister of petroleum resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, and her colleagues.
Diezani’s associates who were named in the forfeiture case are Kola Aluko, a Nigerian businessman, and Jide Omokore, chairman of Atlantic Energy Drilling Concepts Nigeria Limited.
The DOJ said the forfeited assets were the “proceeds of foreign corruption offences”.
In a statement released on its website on Monday, the US department of justice said that “roughly $53.1 million in cash, plus a promissory note with a principal value of $16 million” have been recovered as part of “proceeds of illicitly awarded contracts” involving the trio — Diezeani, Aluko, and Omokore.
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“According to court documents, from 2011 to 2015, Nigerian businessmen Kolawole Akanni Aluko and Olajide Omokore conspired with others to pay bribes to Nigeria’s former minister for petroleum resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, who oversaw Nigeria’s state-owned oil company,” the statement reads.
“In return, Alison-Madueke used her influence to steer lucrative oil contracts to companies owned by Aluko and Omokore. The proceeds of those illicitly awarded contracts totalling more than $100 million were then laundered in and through the United States and used to purchase various assets through shell companies, including luxury real estate in California and New York as well as the Galactica Star, a 65-meter superyacht.
“The real estate was also used as collateral for loans to Aluko and shell companies he controlled. As part of the forfeiture process, those lien holders were paid.”
Diezani was the minister of petroleum resources from 2010 to 2015 during the administration of former president Goodluck Jonathan.
She left the country prior to the handover of government from Jonathan to President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015, she left the country.
The former minister is alleged to have stolen $2.5 billion from the Nigerian government while she was a minister.
She has, however, denied the allegations, while the EFCC has since commenced a process to extradite her.
The federal government had gained forfeiture of Diezani’s properties located in Banana Island Foreshore Estate, Ikoyi, Lagos, including 18 flats and six penthouses.
Over the past few years, the trio of Diezani, Aluko, and Omokore have been facing trial over alleged fraud in the procurement of oil contracts and money laundering in Nigeria and the US.
In 2017, the US government filed a suit to recover $144 million in assets that were purportedly acquired with proceeds from a shady scheme in Nigeria’s oil industry.
Aluko and Omokore were said to have paid bribes between 2011 and 2015 to Diezani in exchange for contracts.
Diezani reportedly used her position to secure contracts for Aluko and Omokri’s shell companies through a subsidiary of the defunct Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) — now the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited.