Following the recent arrest of Nigeria’s former minister of petroleum resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, by the UK National Crime Agency, further investigations have revealed how she looted and laundered the nation’s funds.
An investigation by Sahara Reporters has revealed some methods applied by Diezani and her network of accomplices, family members, and shell companies in a bid to conceal and launder an outrageous amount of the corruptly acquired wealth belonging to the former minister.
It is recalled that Diezani and four other Nigerians were arrested on Friday, October 2, for bribery and corruption offences which are currently being investigated by British and Nigerian anti-corruption agencies.
Later, TVC News reported that the former ally of ex-president Goodluck Jonathan and the others were released on bail, but are expected to be arraigned in a London court on Monday, October 5.
The trial it is believed will draw thousands of Nigerians to London, as more suspects are likely to be arraigned before the court.
Sources speculate that those arrested are likely to be interrogated in connection with alleged reckless granting of waivers, funds diversion and “questionable contracts”.
Sahara Reporters claim that they have gathered exclusively intelligence documents and briefing on financial misappropriations by Diezani Alison-Madueke.
The investigation involved interviews with several people in possession of classified information about the illegal cash flow to the former minister’s front companies and individuals.
According to the report, UK investigators are focusing on several real estate properties in Britain.
Sources say Diezani was most likely aware that the Crown Prosecution was investigating her properties in the UK, going back as early as 2013.
British prosecutors reportedly decided to keep the investigation of the ex-ministers real estate assets in the UK on a low profile, this was done because the UK foreign office and security establishment did not want to unsettle UK-Nigerian ties by going after the former minister during the Jonathan-led administration.
How Diezani Looted Nigeria As Minister
According to Sahara Reporters, the former petroleum minister looted funds through shady dealings which include but is not limited to theft of kerosene subsidy payments, manipulation of fuel subsidy payments, swap deals in which she used a number of personal and corporate firms to sell Nigerian crude oil that was meant to be refined and brought back for local consumption.
Fraudulent acquisition of marginal oil fields and allocation of other lucrative oil field to fronts were also brought to the fore.
Most pronounced of the fraudulent deals was her strategic partnership agreements with two respective companies officially owned by her biggest fronts, Jide Omokore and Kola Aluko, the agreements were said to worth over $6 billion.
Another quoted source of money laundering by the former minister was the controversial Malabu deal in which she, a former attorney general Mohammed Adoke, and President Goodluck Jonathan allegedly shared close to $2 billion.
There are assumptions that the Jonathan administration designed the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) to give Jonathan and Diezani “sweeping discretionary powers to award contracts, licenses, and leases for the Nigerian petroleum industry”.
Accomplices and Companies In Diezani’s Circuit
Intelligence reports identified one Donald Chidi Amamgbo as a key player in Diezani’s money laundering activities.
Sahara Reporters also named Mr Omokore, Mr Aluko and Walter Wagbatsoma as close collaborators in the former minister’s suspicious web of financial activities.
Aluko, who is a yacht-owning “entrepreneur”, was identified as a “money-launderer” for Jonathan and Diezani. The source claimed Aluko recently bought several real estate properties in Los Angeles and New York ranging between $8 million and $23 million.
It is on record that only recently, rap mogul Jay Z, and his wife Beyoncé spent their vacation on a $50-million yacht owned by Aluko.
According Sahara Republic’s source, Aluko fell out with the former petroleum minister when he absconded with funds he was supposed to have laundered for her and the former president.
The Atlantic Energy, formerly known as Atlantic Energy Drilling Concept Limited (AEDCNL), which belongs to Aluko as one of the major corporate entities, used to stash looted funds.
It is recalled that in July 2015, Sahara Reporters had published an investigative report that showed the link between Diezani, Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), and Atlantic Energy.
According to their report: “On July 19, 2010, Atlantic Energy Drilling Concept Limited (AEDCNL) was incorporated as a portfolio company,” adding that this was barely three months after Mrs. Alison-Madueke assumed office as the Minister of Petroleum Resources. The report continued: “Atlantic Energy, even without prior record of successful experience in the oil and gas sector, announced that it had entered into a Strategic Alliance Agreement (SAA) with the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) in April 2011. That was exactly six months before AEDCNL was legally born.”
A report published by the Natural Resource Governance Institute, Atlantic Energy had entered into strategic alliance with the NPDC for at least five oil blocks or oil mining leases.
Another named money manager for the former petroleum minister is Walter Wagbatsoma, who reportedly manages several firms which investigators have linked to Diezani’s financial racket.
It is reported that Wagbatsoma’s holds a private aircraft which is said to be bought by Alison-Madueke probably in 2011.
Wagbatsoma is also associated with a shady energy company named Ontario Oil and Gas, which trades Nigerian crude on international markets.
It is pertinent to note that the directors of Ontario Oil & Gas are currently facing money-laundering trial in Nigerian courts.
Berne Declaration, an independent watchdog organization, said the firm continues to export Nigerian crude despite accusations by the Nigerian government that the company misappropriated more than N4.2 billion.
The firm’s executives were allegedly arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Reports by the Natural Resource Governance Institute reported that Ontario Oil & Gas, along with another company, Aiteo, had their shares of the Nigerian crude and oil products market grow rapidly under the Jonathan-led government.
The report further noted that the growth came despite their very limited experience, Ontario relied on a few foreign traders to take its [petroleum] allocation to market.
Diezani’s third accomplice is Donald Chidi Amamgbo, who studied law at Howard University in Washington DC at the same time when the former petroleum minister was studying there as a student of architecture. It is believed that they met each other in the US capital.
In January 2012, intelligence reports revealed that Amamgbo was suspended from practicing law in California, where he relocated, for one year.
He, however, seemed to have had his focus turned to managing three companies under his ownership (specifically: Tidax Energy, Mezcor SA, and Lynear SA).
More details regarding Sahara Reporter’s investigation can be found here.
It is recalled that earlier in May there were reports that Diezani travelled to London, supposedly to receive medical treatment.
The National Crime Agency (NCA), which arrested Diezani and four other suspects last Friday, reportedly did so unilaterally and without the cooperation of the EFCC.
However, on catching wind of the London arrest, the agents of the EFCC their moved swiftly to search the embattled oil minister’s residences in Abuja and other locations in Nigeria on the same day.
The presidency has revealed its position on the arrest of Diezani. Garba Shehu, the president’s senior special assistant on media and publicity, told Premium Times that the government is not in limbo regarding the arrest as it had been duly informed.
However, they are still not willing to say much about the arrest, but will keep Nigerians abreast of happenings as the investigations continue.
Diezani was the most powerful minister in the Jonathan administration, and for a quite a while has been linked to shady deals and policies in Nigeria’s oil sector.
It is alleged that she fled Nigeria in May, days before the official end of her tenure as the minister of petroleum and the inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
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