UK Authorities Seize £10 million Worth of Properties From Diezani

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Adekunle Samuel

 

 

The United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency (NCA) has seized three London properties linked to former Nigerian Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke.

According to a report by Premium Times, the order to freeze the assets was handed down by a London court in September 2016.

The properties, two in Regents Park and one in Buckinghamshire, were frozen under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

The freezing order reportedly followed a request made by Nigerian authorities also investigating the former minister.

Diezani’s Banana Island Property

While the order forbids the defendants from disposing of or dealing in the properties, it came too late to capture a further two properties worth £8 million which were sold.

Between 2011 and 2015,  Chief Jide Omokore and Kola Aluko allegedly paid bribes to Alison-Madueke in exchange for billion dollar contracts, to lift Nigeria’s oil, getting awarded to shell companies owned by both of them.

Through shell companies, both men laundered billions of dollars accruing from Nigeria’s crude into the US and Europe, using the proceeds to purchase properties worth millions of dollars for Alison-Madueke.

Using a series of shell companies and layered financial transactions to conceal the nature, location, source, and/or ownership of the proceeds of their illicit transactions, they purchased properties for Alison-Madueke in London and the United States.

The seized property in Buckinghamshire was bought by Omokore’s Seychellois company Miranda Investments for £3,250,000 in January 2011, while the other two in Harley House and Park View were bought for £2,800,000 and £3,750,000 respectively in March 2011.

Aiteo’s Chief Executive Officer, Benedict Peters,a jeweler named Christopher Aire, and a lawyer named Donald Amamgbo, are also listed as defendants by the United States Department of Justice.

Alison-Madueke was arrested in 2015 by the NCA and will stand trial with the other four defendants for alleged bribery, corruption and money laundering.

She has been linked to a slew of corruption cases, with courts seizing assets and funds that have been suspected to be proceeds of her loot.

On Tuesday, August 22, a Federal High Court in Lagos ordered the interim forfeiture of assets valued at $16,441,906 linked to her.

On Wednesday, August 9, 2017, Justice Chuka Obiozor of a Lagos Federal High Court also ordered the interim forfeiture of the sum of N7,646,700,000 linked to the former minister after the EFCC filed an ex parte application.

This ruling came only days after a Federal High Court, also in Lagos, ordered the permanent forfeiture of a $37.5m Banana Island mansion owned by the former minister on Monday, August 7.

In addition to the building, the court also ordered the permanent forfeiture of the sums of $2,740,197.96 and N84,537,840.70 realised as rents on the property.

On Tuesday, August 8, the EFCC revealed that its operatives discovered boxes of gold, silver and diamond jewelry from the Abuja residences of the former minister.

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