Former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke
Barely 48 hours after the US Department of Justice released details of how part of the $1.5billion oil production contracts funds were laundered, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is set to seize two houses belonging to a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, who was implicated by the U.S. authorities as a beneficiary of the laundered cash.
Also, the commission is set to seize a mansion belonging to one of the suspects, Kola Aluko, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), TheNation has reported.
Also, all the properties in question have been identified and documented for forfeiture with the UAE authorities. About five luxury properties have also been traced to a former official of the defunct Oceanic Bank.
Nigeria signed six agreements with the UAE on January 19, 2016 following a state visit by President Muhammadu Buhari. The pact includes Judicial Agreements on Extradition, Transfer of Sentenced Persons, Mutual Legal Assistance on Criminal Matters, and Mutual Legal Assistance on Criminal and Commercial Matters (the recovery and repatriation of stolen wealth).
Besides, the luxury properties in the United States, the EFCC believes Aluko and Mrs. Alison-Madueke allegedly acquired others with the laundered funds. A source revealed to TheNation that all the suspicious assets have been located in the highbrow Jumeirah, which is the most expensive and exclusive area in Dubai.
But of the eight identified, two apartments linked with Mrs Alison-Madueke are marked as J5 Emirates Hills (30million Dirham) and E146 Emirates Hills valued at 44million Dirham. The EFCC plans to release the details later.
A source in the commission said: “The EFCC still has a valid Mareva Injunction to freeze some foreign accounts and seize some assets linked with Diezani and her business associates in the United Kingdom and some jurisdictions.
“Some of the offshore financial institutions, where accounts are frozen, include BNP Paribas (Switzerland), LGT Bank (Switzerland), Standard Chartered Bank (London),Barclays Bank (London), Standard Energy (Voduz, Switzerland), HSBC (London), Corner Bank (Lugano, Switzerland) and Deutsche Bank (Geneva).
“Besides the luxury properties traced to Diezani and Aluko in the US, we have identified more in Dubai.
“So far, we have commenced the process of ensuring the forfeiture of these assets by the suspects. The EFCC is also verifying the assets linked with Aluko’s business partner, Chief Jide Omokore in Dubai too.
“All the steps taken so far are in line with the relevant laws in the UAE and the six agreements signed with Nigeria when President Buhari went on official trip.”
According to the source, the EFCC believes that “some of the assets were bought with part of the $1.5billion oil production contracts.
”These oil barons and their ilk acquired these properties when Dubai was a safe haven for looted funds. But the UAE has strengthened its laws in a manner that there is no more hidden place for the corrupt,” the source said, adding that the only hurdle the EFCC has to cross is the legal process in the UAE to retrieve the assets. “We are already employing the Mutual Legal Assistance Agreement to get this done.” He said.