The United States government has filed a suit to recover $144 million in assets which were reportedly acquired with proceeds from a shady scheme in Nigeria’s oil industry.
The Bloomberg also reports that the suit was filed by the US justice department’s kleptocracy asset recovery initiative.
According to the online medium, Kola Aluko and Jide Omokore reportedly paid bribes between 2011 and 2015 to Nigeria’s former Minister of Petroleum, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, in exchange for contracts.
Diezani was said to have used her position to secure contracts for Aluko and Omokri’s shell companies through a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
Although failing to abide by the terms of the contracts, the companies were reportedly allowed to sell $1.5 billion worth of Nigerian crude oil.
The online medium also reports that in the suit filed on Friday in Houston, Texas, proceeds of the contracts were laundered through the US.
Aluko and Omokore, according to the suit, acquired real estate worth millions for Diezani in London and bought her over $1 million worth of furniture and artwork in Houston.
The US acting assistant attorney general, Mr Kenneth Bianco, was quoted as saying that, “Corrupt foreign officials and business executives should make no mistake: if illicit funds are within the reach of the US, we will seek to forfeit them and to return them to the victims from whom they were stolen.”
The suit also seeks the forfeiture of an $80 million yacht, Galactica Star and a $50 million condo in Manhattan’s luxury apartment One57, purportedly belonging to Aluko.
The court filings also made mention of a recorded conversation in which Diezani warned Aluko and Omokore that their spending spree would attract attention.
“I spoke to you several times about your general behavior, acquisition of assets, etc., asking you to be a bit more careful,” Diezani was quoted as telling Aluko.
“If you want to hire a yacht, you lease it for two weeks or whatever. You don’t go and sink funds into it at this time when Nigerian oil and gas sector is under all kinds of watch.”
Bloomberg further reports that Aluko’s yacht, the Galactica Star, last docked in Freeport in the Bahamas on May 3.