by Alexander O. Onukwue
The United States Department of Justice has initiated charges of money laundering against Nigeria’s former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke.
The case against her involves two other persons, Kolawole Aluko and Jide Omokore. Both are believed to have paid bribes to the NNPC, which was under Alison-Madueke’s supervision, in order to obtain huge oil swap contracts for their companies.
Expensive luxury apartments in London and in separate areas in the US, plus luxury items like an $80m yacht and furnishing for those houses – believed to have been purchased by Aluko and Omokore for the former OPEC boss – are particular pieces of evidence being put forward by the US DOJ as proof of laundering.
It represents a significant weight of evidence against Alison-Madueke who has been severally accused of money laundering almost immediately after her time in the Petroleum Ministry with the defeat of Goodluck Jonathan in 2015. Many have pointed fingers at her for various lavish acquisitions in foreign countries, especially in the US, UK, and other Island countries.
The companies used by Aluko and Omokore are mostly registered in the British Virgin Islands.
Will the weight of evidence available lead to a prosecution of the former Minister and her cronies?
It is not the first case of corruption to be made against her. However, the connection to two other persons makes the case more weighty. One of the four luxury apartments purchased by Aluko in One57 is the eighth most expensive in New York, but his problems with a loan financing has made the condo available for auction on the 19th of July, according to Quartz.
There is an audio recording in which Alison-Madueke apparently rebukes Aluko for purchasing the expensive yacht, instead of hiring for some time. It will be the DOJ’s job to now prove that this handshake went above the elbow.
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