By: Yusuf Alli
- Investigators access ex-minister’s mansions in Dubai
Nigeria is set to activate one of the agreements it signed with the United Arab Emirates to seize some mansions traced to former Oil Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke, The Nation learnt at the weekend.
Besides, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has traced about $1.5billion believed to be proceeds of crime to a Swiss account as part of the ongoing probe of the former minister.
The anti-graft agency has allegedly linked the loot with the ex-minister and four of her business associates.
Four detectives on Friday left Nigeria for the United Kingdom with more clues on Mrs Alison-Madueke’s alleged loot.
The detectives have gained access to two exotic mansions belonging to the former minister in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), ahead of an Assets Forfeiture process by the Federal Government.
The properties are located in E146 Emirates Hill Dubai and J5 Emirates Hill Dubai.
According to a top source in the EFCC, about $1.5billion has been traced to the ex-minister and her business associates.
The source said the associates allegedly used two shell companies to sell more than $1.5bn worth of Nigerian crude oil.
The anti-graft agency claimed that the $1.5billion oil cash had been traced to a bank in Switzerland.
The top source said: “So far investigation revealed that the $1.5billion was laundered into an account in Switzerland after passing through the United States. We have the details of how the cash was wired into the account by some oil firms.
“Our investigation confirmed that the account was used to disburse the slush funds to make exotic purchases and acquire properties in Nigeria and other parts of the world.
“The US Department of Justice through its Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative is already seeking to recover $144m in assets from some Diezani associates.”
The team of detectives that went to the United Kingdom is the second this year.
“We are working hard on how to seize cash and assets linked with Diezani. We want her tried at home instead of in he UK,” the source told The Nation.
It was learnt that Mrs Alison-Madueke’s posh mansions in Dubai was worth about 74million Dirham.
The source added:”Apart from the database made available to us by the UAE, there is no hiding place for Diezani, her associates and all the Politically Exposed Persons( PEPs) because the UAE has a Beneficial Ownership policy which will give details of those with assets, even if they are bought through proxies.”
With the location of the two assets of the ex-minister, the Federal Government will invoke the agreement on Mutual Legal Assistance on Criminal and Commercial Matters(recovery and repatriation of stolen wealth) between Nigeria and the UAE to initiate a forfeiture.
President Muhammadu Buhari on January 19, 2016 entered into six agreements with the Emirates, including the Mutual Legal Assistance on Criminal and Commercial Matters(recovery and repatriation of stolen wealth).