THE NEWSGHOST, NIGERIA – On Friday, July 14, the United States (US) Department of Justice (DoJ) filed a civil complaint calling for the recovery of up to $144 million assets acquired through paying bribes to Nigeria’s former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke.
According to the complaint, filed in US district court in Houston,Texas, from 2011 to 2015 two Nigerian businessmen, Kolawole Aluko and Olajide Omokore, conspired with others to pay bribes to the former petroleum minister Diezani Alison-Madueke, who steered lucrative oil contracts to companies owned by them.
Report says, after awarding government contracts to shell companies owned by the two men, Alison-Madueke (also known as ‘the madam’ or ‘Madam D’) was rewarded with a ‘lavish lifestyle’.
On a single day in May 2012, Aluko reportedly wired $461,500 from a Swiss bank account to a furniture store in the Houston area and $261,091 to another furniture store in the same area on behalf of the petroleum minister.
In January 2011, Aluko and unidentified conspirators had bought a Buckinghamshire home known as ‘The Falls’ in South East England for £3.25 million. The residence was intended for use by the mother and son of the petroleum minister.
The two Nigerian oil businessmen allegedly purchased millions of dollars worth of property in and near London for the petroleum minister and her family, and then furnished the homes with artworks and other luxury items she fancied from Houston area stores.
The assets to be seized by the US prosecutors include a 200-foot yatch worth $82 million and a $50 million condominium in Manhattan, overlooking the famous New York’s Central Park, purchased by Aluko.
Kenneth Blanco, the acting assistant attorney-general said, ‘The United States is not a safe haven for the proceeds of corruption. 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 complaint was raised as part of the kleptocracy asset recovery initiative of the DoJ.