The U.S. Department of Justice announced Monday the final resolution of two civil cases seeking the forfeiture of various luxury assets that were the proceeds of foreign corruption offences and were laundered in and through the United States. Former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke and businessmen Olajide Omokore and Kolawole Akanni were named in the cases.
“With the conclusion of the cases, the department has recovered roughly $53.1 million in cash – constituting the net liquidated value of the defendant’s assets – plus a promissory note with a principal value of $16 million,” the U.S. Justice department said in a statement seen by PREMIUM TIMES.
According to court documents, from 2011 to 2015, Nigerian businessmen Kolawole Akanni Aluko and Olajide Omokore conspired with others to pay bribes to Nigeria’s former Minister for Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, who oversaw Nigeria’s state-owned oil company.
In return, Mrs Alison-Madueke used her influence to steer lucrative oil contracts to companies owned by Messrs Aluko and Omokore.
The proceeds of those illicitly awarded contracts totaling more than $100 million were then laundered in and through the United States and used to purchase various assets through shell companies, including luxury real estate in California and New York as well as the Galactica Star, a 65-meter superyacht. The real estate was also used as collateral for loans to Mr Aluko and shell companies he controlled. As part of the forfeiture process, those lien holders were paid.
Ex-Minister Alison-Madueke, Mr Omokore and Mr Aluko have also been subjects of criminal trials in Nigeria over related oil industry alleged corruption.
Mrs Alison-Madueke has not been seen in Nigeria since the end of her ministerial tenure on May 29, 2015. She is believed to be in exile in the United Kingdom. Mr Aluko has also remained at large. Mr Omokore is the only one of the trio who has been physically present in Nigeria to attend trials.
The American cases involving Mrs Alison-Madueke, Mr Omokore and Mr Aluko were brought under the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative.
This initiative is led by a team of dedicated prosecutors in the Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section, in partnership with federal law enforcement agencies, and often with U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, to forfeit the proceeds of foreign official corruption and, where appropriate, to use those recovered assets to benefit the people harmed by these acts of corruption and abuse of office.
In 2015, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) formed International Corruption Squads across the country to address national and international implications of foreign corruption.
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