The Unbelievable Figures of Former Minister’s Loot

Former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke is the country’s unofficial Looter-in-Chief.

She’s been accused of diverting state funds, awarding multi-billion naira contracts without regard for due process, as well as recklessly spending government funds.

There’s no way to tell for sure, but it could well be that some of the figures of her alleged loot are loot inside a loot inside another loot and everything is just one giant loot pyramid.

Nigeria’s former petroleum minister Diezani Alison-Madueke.
Nigeria’s former petroleum minister Diezani Alison-Madueke.  (World Economic Forum/ICIJ)

Whichever way it falls, Nigeria has taken one too many big Ls from Madam D.

1. $153.3 million – On Friday, January 6, 2017, a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos ruled that a certain $153.3 million,allegedly stolen by Alison-Madueke, be forfeited to the Federal Government.

According to documents filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in court, four banks:Sterling Bank, First Bank, Access Bank and Fidelity Bank, aided Alison-Madueke in siphoning Nigeria’s money from the state-run Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

The EFCC has been able to chase down the sums of N23.4 billion, $5 million and another N9.08 billion out of the $153.3m.

On August 9, a Federal High Court in Lagos state ordered the interim forfeiture of the sum of N7,646,700,000 that’s also part of the loot stashed away in Sterling Bank.

2. $1.7 billion – Between 2011 and 2015,  Chief Jide Omokore and Kola Alukoallegedly paid bribes to Alison-Madueke in exchange for billion dollar contracts, to lift Nigeria’s oil, getting awarded to shell companies owned by both of them.

Through shell companies, both men laundered billions of dollars accruing from Nigeria’s crude into the US and Europe. They did this by doing little financing of exploration and production operations of eight on-shore oil and gas blocks. Sometimes, they did no financing at all.

The kickbacks here were used by both men to purchase properties worth millions of dollars for Alison-Madueke.

They conspired to purchase properties at Flat 5 Park View, 83-86 Prince Albert Road, London NW8 7RU (“Flat 5 Park View”) for£3,750,000;  58 Harley House, Marylebone Road, London NW1 5HL (“58 Harley House”) for £2,800,000; 9 Chester Close North, London NW1 4JE (“39 Chester Close North”) for£1,730,000 and £11,530,000 worth of London real estate for the benefit of Alison-Madueke.

They used a series of shell companies and layered financial transactions to conceal the nature, location, source, and/or ownership of the proceeds of their illicit transactions. The illegal loot of state fund between this period pooled up to a staggering $1.7 billion.

Diezani Alison-Madueke
Alison-Madueke was only the Minister of Petroleum Resources from April 2010 to May 2015, but it was enough time to do damage to Nigeria’s treasury  (The Trent)

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) is currently seeking to recover $144 million in assets from the loot.

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

3. $115 million – In March 2017, the EFCC amended a five-count charge, and joined Alison-Madueke as an accused person in a N450 million money laundering suit involvingMohammed Belgore (SAN), and Abubakar Sulaiman, a former Minister of National Planning.

A prosecution witness, Timothy Olaobaju, told the court that sometime in April 2014, about $115 million was lodged into the account of Alison-Madueke.

It was revealed that Belgore and Sulaiman took direct possession of the sum of N450 million after Alison-Madueke issued payment instructions that the sums be converted into naira, and paid to some beneficiaries.

4. $20 billion – Even though she was cleared by a Senate committee, it is incredibly naive to dismiss allegations that Diezani diverted around 20 million of revenues from the NNPC while she was minister, especially in light of the allegations that have followed.

Former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Lamido Sanusi, had, in 2014, initially alleged that around that sum had been diverted under the supervision of Alison-Madueke.

While the current Emir of Kano was sacked for his public outing of the minister, an audit report by PricewaterhouseCoopers on the alleged missing $20 billion oil money established that the gap between the NNPC’s oil revenues between January 2012 and July 2013 and cash remitted to the government for the same period was $18.5 billion.

Even though the government never admitted that this much was missing, it did admit that it could not account for an outstanding $10.8 billion, before it later claimed the money formed part of subsidy payment for petrol and kerosene, and cost for oil pipeline maintenance.

Alison-Madueke’s defence

In a robust response against the accusations in January 2017, Alison-Madueke shot down claims of her loot and accused the EFCC of engaging in a “media trial”.

Diezani
Alison-Madueke has been treated for breast cancer in the United Kingdom amid all the corruption probes trailing her  (Newsbreak)

She said, “I have up till now chosen to maintain my silence and not to respond to inaccurate press reporting. However, given the level of deliberate inaccuracies, I am now forced to respond because it is clear that the EFCC is taking advantage of my silence to try me by media and to convict me in the eyes of the public on false reports.

“I am deeply disturbed and bewildered by recent media reports claiming that by virtue of an order of the Federal High Court, I have forfeited to the Federal Government  the sum of $153.3m which I purportedly stole from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

“First and foremost, whilst the reasons for my being out of the country are public knowledge, the principle of fair hearing demands that I should have been notified of formal charges if truly there was a prima facie evidence or indictment against my person linking me with the said issue, so as to ensure that I had adequate legal representation. This was never done.

“I wish to state that I cannot forfeit what was never mine. I do not know the basis on which the EFCC has chosen to say that I am the owner of these funds as no evidence was provided to me before the order was obtained and they have not, in fact, served me with the order or, any evidence since they obtained it.

“I do not, therefore, understand how the EFCC can in the same breath say that the monies in question are mine. If they had evidence that the monies were mine, then they would not should not, have used the procedure which applies only to funds of unknown ownership. If indeed they used this particular legal procedure because they did not know who owned the monies, then how can they now be falsely attributing the ownership to me.

“Let me restate categorically as I have always maintained, for the record, I have not and will never steal money from or defraud the Federal Government of Nigeria.

“As a Christian, it is my sincerely held belief that in the coming months, history will be the judge of exactly who Lied and who told the Truth. By the Grace of God, I shall be here to see the day when truth prevails.”

According to the EFCC, at least N47.2 billion and $487.5 million in cash and properties have been traced to the former minister.

Former Nigerian oil minister Diezani Alison-Madueke is accused of acquiring an apartment complex on Lagos' ultra-chic Banana Island with stolen government cash and is implicated in a slew of legal cases at home and abroad
Former Nigerian oil minister Diezani Alison-Madueke is accused of acquiring an apartment complex on Lagos’ ultra-chic Banana Island with stolen government cash and is implicated in a slew of legal cases at home and abroad  (AFP/File)

According to the agency, she has at least 12 luxury buildings scattered across the country. One of such, a Banana Island estate valued at $37.5M, was recently permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.

Alison-Madueke was arrested in 2015 by theNational Crime Agency (NCA) of the United Kingdom and will stand trial with four others for alleged bribery, corruption and money laundering.

If Diezani justice left in the world, Alison-Madueke should not go unpunished. (Pulse.ng)

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