Prosecutors in the United States have provided details of how Nigeria?s former minister of petroleum, Diezani Alison-Madueke, and her two businessmen-allies, Jide Omokore and Kola Aluko, squandered billions of naira on property and luxury items in the U.S. and UK.
The US government accused Dieziani of collecting $144 million in assets as bribe from the businessmen in exchange of some oil deals worth over N1.5billion.
The allegation was made in an ongoing civil case filed by the US department of Justice against Omokore and Aluko. Both men allegedly conspired with others to bribe the former Minister in other to win oil production contracts.
According to the US Justice department, the revenue generated by both businessmen from their fraudulent oil deals were laundered in the US and used to buy assets which include the Manhattan condominium and the $80 million yacht, the Galactica Star. The condominium is located in One57, a skyscraper located near Central Park on a street in Midtown Manhattan that is known as ?Billionaire?s Row.?
In the last two years, the businessmen have faced several investigations, including court actions surrounding the management of Nigeria?s oil industry.
Recall that in 2016, the Nigerian government filed for a court order for the world-wide seizure of multi-billion naira assets linked to the two men, described as close allies of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan and Mrs. Alison-Madueke.
In a civil forfeiture notice filed by the U.S. Department of Justice, DoJ, on Friday, prosecutors narrated how the two businessmen allegedly purchased property worth millions of dollars in London for Mrs. Alison-Madueke and her family
Acting Assistant Attorney General Blanco said in a statement that the case demonstrated the Justice Department?s commitment to trading and recovering corruption proceeds.
Following a mortgage default, lender Banque Havilland SA launched foreclosure proceedings on the condominium in January. It is scheduled to be up for public auction on July 19, according to the lawsuit.
Alison-Madueke has previously denied to Reuters any wrongdoing when questioned about missing public funds and corruption allegations.
But according to a Financial Times report, the two men bought a total of four residential properties in and around London worth 11.45 million, and furnished them with furniture, artwork and other luxury items.
In May 2012, Mr. Aluko was said to have wired $461,500 and $262,091 to two furniture stores in Houston from a Swiss bank account, on behalf of Mrs. Alison-Madueke, the civic complaint claimed.
The bribe, according to prosecutors, was in exchange of $1.5 billion worth of oil deal awarded to two shell companies linked to the two men.
Prosecutors described the two companies as ?unqualified? for the deal but were nonetheless given the contracts for the sale of crude oil worth $1.5 billion.
The businessmen then allegedly plotted more shell companies to launder the proceeds through the United States.
U.S. prosecutors are now moved to seize $144 million in asset linked the two men, comprising a 200-foot yacht and a Manhattan property one block from Central Park, describing them as fruits of an international bribery scheme.
Among the asset is Mr. Aluko?s vessel, Galactica Star, described as ?world?s largest fast displacement yacht?, along with condominium units in Manhattan and real estate in Southern California.
?The United States is not a safe haven for the proceeds of corruption,? Financial Times quoted acting assistant attorney-general Kenneth Blanco as saying. ?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.?