April 16, 2024

US recovers over $53m proceeds of corruption from former Petroleum Minister, Diezani, Omokore, Aluko

Oredola Adeola

 

The United States Justice 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, being proceeds of lucrative crude oil contracts, laundered into and through the US, by Diezani Alison-Madueke, former Nigerian Minister of Petroleum Resources, and her accomplices Olajide Omokore and Kolawole Aluko.

The Justice Department made this known in a statement announcing the final resolution of two civil cases seeking the forfeiture of various luxury assets that were the proceeds of foreign corruption offenses and were laundered in and through the United States.

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, Alison-Madueke used her influence to steer lucrative oil contracts to companies owned by Aluko and Omokore.

 

The statement said, “The proceeds of those illicitly awarded crude oil 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 Aluko and shell companies he controlled. As part of the forfeiture process, those lien holders were paid.

 

Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. Assistant Attorney General of the US Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Luis Quesada, Assistant Director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, David Sundberg, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office, and Chief Jim Lee of the IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) made the announcement.

 

The FBI’s International Corruption Squad in the Washington Field Office and the IRS-CI investigated the cases, with assistance from the FBI Los Angeles Field Office.

 

Trial Attorneys Michael W. Khoo and Joshua L. Sohn of the Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section prosecuted the cases.

 

The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs and U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas provided substantial assistance.

 

These cases 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 FBI formed International Corruption Squads across the country to address national and international implications of foreign corruption.

 

EnergyDay’s check showed that the duo of Omokore and Aluko, owned Atlantic Energy and Atlantic Holdings Ltd, an oil company, used as Diezani’s front to lift over 2 million barrels of crude oil with a cash value of $240million in 2013 and another 500,000 barrels valued at $54million.

 

Diezani Alison-Madueke and all other suspected businessmen have been fingered in petroleum industry fraudulent activities worth over $50 billion.

 

The former Petroleum Ministers and her accomplices have been standing trials in the US, United Kingdom and Nigeria.