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Embattled Ex-minister Diezani Madueke Spent $1m On Furniture And Artworks

Nigeria's former oil minister Diezani Alison-Madueke is currently on bail in London after being arrested in connection with a British probe into international corruption and money laundering.

The former minister Diezani Alison-Madueke is currently on bail in London after being arrested in connection with a British probe into international corruption and money laundering  (AFP/File).
The United States has revealed damning details of how former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, allegedly laundered $144 million.

According to US authorities, the former minister lavished millions of her illicit wealth on landed properties, furniture and artworks.

According to the 91-page "verified complaint" filed by the US Government before the US District Court, Southern District of Texas, Houston Division, Diezani spent "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."

She acquired the bulk of these assets between April 2010 and May 2015 when she was Nigeria's Minister of Petroleum Resources during which time she was, "overseeing Nigeria’s state-owned oil company, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation."

The United States is seeking an order in court to forfeit funds and assets worth $144m that the former minister acquired as part of "an international conspiracy to obtain lucrative business opportunities in the Nigerian oil and gas sector."

Diezani looted from the country's treasury, colluding with two associates, Kolawole Aluko and Jide Omokore who helped helped to launder "the proceeds of the illicit business opportunities into and through the United States."

In the detailed reports, some of the assets under review to be seized includes 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.

In the court processes obtained by The Punch, 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 one, 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".

In the same table, 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 United Kingdom between December 2012 through at least July 2014.

The complaint was signed by a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Elizabeth Crispino, who 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."

Speaking on the authorities' bid to seize the assets, Crispino said, "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."

On Wednesday, July 19, Justice Chuka Obiozor of a Lagos state Federal High Court ordered the interim forfeiture of the embattled former minister's Banana Island estate property in Lagos.

Should we say being tried abroad has brought out more than we expected?

The property was said to have 13.

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