Wednesday, August 9, 2017

$37.5 million luxury apartment complex seized from Nigeria's ex-oil minister

Nigeria’s ex-oil minister Diezani Alison-Madueke has been embroiled in a global corruption scandal involving hundreds of millions of dollars that has pulled in investigators from London to Houston to the tiny island of Dominica.

On Monday (Aug. 8), a Lagos court ordered the final forfeiture of a $37.5 million apartment complex on Banana Island, one of the most expensive neighborhoods in Lagos. The building was allegedly purchased by the 56-year old ex-oil minister between 2011 and 2012 while she was still in office. The court also ordered that rent proceeds from the apartment building, totaling nearly $3 million, be forfeited.

The ruling comes after Alison-Madueke and other respondents failed to show cause for why the property should not be forfeited in the 14-day window granted by the court at its last hearing on July 19.

It is the latest high profile example of president Buhari’s government using a forfeiture strategy through the court to reclaim stolen funds or property from the ex-minister. Back in January, the government reclaimed up to $153.3 million of funds misappropriated from the Nigeria’s national oil company NNPC.

Since leaving office in 2015, Alison-Madueke has become the face of corruption during the administration of president Goodluck Jonathan.

Just last month, Alison-Madueke was named in a US Department of Justice (DOJ) lawsuit seeking to reclaim assets worth $144 million believed to have been proceeds of corrupt dealings. The assets include a $50 million luxury condo apartment in New York and a $80 million yacht purchased by Nigerian businessmen believed to have received lucrative oil contracts from Nigeria’s state oil company largely thanks to Alison-Madueke’s influence.

Among other details, DOJ’s 54-page case showed that, in exchange for the contracts, the businessmen purchased property in the United Kingdom worth £11.5 million for the ex-oil minister. Back in Oct. 2015, Alison-Madueke was arrested in London on charges of bribery and money laundering.

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