The United States of America has given the details of how a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, allegedly laundered about $144m, using part of the funds to purchase a yacht, landed properties, furniture and artworks.
According to the US, while she held sway as the Nigerian petroleum minister, Diezani, who was otherwise known as “the Madam” or “Madam D,” led “a lavish and privileged lifestyle,” spending “more than one million dollars on furniture, artwork, and other furnishings purchased within the Southern District of Texas, and shipped, in part, to London and Abuja, Nigeria.”
These were contained in a 91-page “verified complaint” filed by the US Government before the US District Court, Southern District of Texas, Houston Division, where it is seeking an order to forfeit funds and assets worth $144m linked to Diezani.
The US, in the “verified complaint” signed by a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Elizabeth Crispino, said Diezani allegedly acquired the assets with kickbacks from “an international conspiracy to obtain lucrative business opportunities in the Nigerian oil and gas sector.”
The assets, the US stated, were acquired between April 2010 and May 2015 when Diezani was “overseeing Nigeria’s state-owned oil company, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.”
Among the properties, which the US now seeks to be forfeited, are a 65-metre motor yacht, named M/Y Galactica Star; two properties known as 807 and 815 Cima Del Mundo Road, Montecito, Calif; as well as funds in a couple of companies.
The US stated that Diezani, with the help of and in conspiracy with two Nigerian businessmen, Kolawole Akanni Aluko and Olajide Omokore, “laundered the proceeds of the illicit business opportunities into and through the United States.”
In the court processes obtained by a Punch correspondent on Tuesday, the US detailed, using tables, the “living and lifestyle expenses for Alison-Madueke.”
One table, tagged, ‘Rental Payments,’ showed how Aluko and his company, Tracon Investments Limited, helped Diezani to make a total of at least £537,922 in rental payments for two central London residences both located at 22 St. Edmunds Terrace, London NW8 7QQ, where Diezani and her mother stayed between August 2011 and January 2014.
Another table, tagged, ‘Transportation Services’, showed how Aluko and his beneficially-owned company, TENKA, helped Diezani to make at least £393,274.32 in payments to a car hire company, the “Chauffeur Company”, while Omokore and his own company, Energy Property Development Ltd., also paid at least £4,424.40 to the “Chauffeur Company” to convey Diezani and her family about the UK between December 2012 through at least July 2014.
The FBI agent, Crispino, stated, “Upon information and belief, the above payments were made corruptly by, on behalf of, or at the direction of Aluko and Omokore for the benefit of Alison-Madueke and/or her family, in return for Alison-Madueke’s having improperly influenced the award of the Forcados SAAs to AEDC and in anticipation of or in return for her improperly influencing the award of the Brass SAA.
“In particular, the director of the Chauffeur Company has stated that in or around June 2014, he was assaulted in the hallway outside of Alison-Madueke’s known residence at Flat 19, 22 St. Edmunds Terrace, London NW8 7QQ, by two men known by the director to be Alison-Madueke’s associates.
“This assault occurred as the director of the Chauffeur Company was attempting to deliver a letter concerning approximately £224,000 in unpaid services provided by his company to Alison-Madueke.
“The director of the Chauffeur Company has further stated that, upon hearing the commotion, Alison-Madueke herself appeared and instructed her associates to settle the unpaid bill.
“As the preceding table indicates, roughly one month after the hallway assault, TENKA paid a total of £135,361.48 to the Chauffeur Company.”
Crispino said Diezani’s assets were liable to being forfeited “under 18 U.S.C. § § 981(a)(1)(A) and 981(a)(1)(C),” as they were “derived from, or traceable to the proceeds of ‘specified unlawful activity,’ as that term is defined in 18 U.S.C. § 1956(c)(7), or a conspiracy to commit ‘specified unlawful activity,’ and as property involved in money laundering violations of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1956 and 1957.”
Crispino stated that “Section 1956(a)(2) prohibits transferring funds known to be the proceeds of unlawful activity from a place outside the United States to a place in the United States, with knowledge that the transfer is designed in whole or in part to conceal the nature, location, source, ownership, or control of the proceeds of a specified unlawful activity, including the proceeds of an offense against a foreign nation involving ‘bribery of a public official, or the misappropriation, theft, or embezzlement of public funds by or for the benefit of a public official.”