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Diezani, Kola Aluko EFCC to seize Dubai mansions allegedly owned by ex-minister, associate

It was gathered that the EFCC also traced about five luxury properties to a former official of the defunct Oceanic Bank.

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Nigeria's Minister of Petroleum Diezani Alison-Madueke addresses delegates at the opening of the Nigeira Oil & Gas 2014 conference in a file photo play Nigeria's Minister of Petroleum Diezani Alison-Madueke addresses delegates at the opening of the Nigeira Oil & Gas 2014 conference in a file photo (REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde)

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has moved to seize a mansion allegedly owned by Kola Aluko, a close associate of former minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke.

This is coming 48 hours after the US Department of Justice released details of how part of the $1.5 billion oil production contracts funds were laundered.

The anti-graft Commission, reports said, will also apply for the forfeiture of two houses belonging to Alison-Madueke, who was implicated by the US authorities as a beneficiary of the laundered funds.

According to The Nation, about five luxury properties have also been traced to a former official of the defunct Oceanic Bank.

All the properties have been identified and documented for forfeiture with the UAE authorities.

The Federal Government had on January 19, 2016, signed six agreements with the UAE, as a result of the state by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The pact includes Judicial Agreements on Extradition, Transfer of Sentenced Persons, Mutual Legal Assistance on Criminal Matters, and Mutual Legal Assistance on Criminal and Commercial Matters (the recovery and repatriation of stolen wealth).

ALSO READ: How Diezani's associates laundered $1.76b stolen from NNPC

It was gathered that all the suspicious assets are located in the highbrow Jumeirah, which is the most expensive and exclusive area in Dubai.

"The EFCC still has a valid Mareva Injunction to freeze some foreign accounts and seize some assets linked with Diezani and her business associates in the United Kingdom and some jurisdictions," An EFCC source was quoted as saying.

"Some of the offshore financial institutions, where accounts are frozen, include BNP Paribas (Switzerland), LGT Bank (Switzerland), Standard Chartered Bank (London), Barclays Bank (London), Standard Energy (Voduz, Switzerland), HSBC (London), Corner Bank (Lugano, Switzerland) and Deutsche Bank (Geneva).

"Besides the luxury properties traced to Diezani and Aluko in the US, we have identified more in Dubai.

"So far, we have commenced the process of ensuring the forfeiture of these assets by the suspects. The EFCC is also verifying the assets linked with Aluko’s business partner, Chief Jide Omokore in Dubai too.

"All the steps taken so far are in line with the relevant laws in the UAE and the six agreements signed with Nigeria when President Buhari went on official trip," the source said.

The source further said that the EFCC believes "some of the assets were bought with part of the $1.5 billion oil production contracts.

"These oil barons and their ilk acquired these properties when Dubai was a safe haven for looted funds. But the UAE has strengthened its laws in a manner that there is no more hidden place for the corrupt.

"We are already employing the Mutual Legal Assistance Agreement to get this done."

On Friday, July 14, the United States prosecutors had moved to seize Aluko's $144 million in assets including a 200-foot yacht and a Manhattan condominium one block from Central Park, calling them the fruits of an international bribery scheme that involved Alison-Madueke.

According to a civil forfeiture complaint, from 2011 to 2015, Aluko and Omokore, allegedly conspired with others to bribe the former minister petroleum resources in order to win oil production contracts worth $1.5 billion.

After awarding government contracts to shell companies owned by the two men, Alison-Madueke was rewarded with a "lavish lifestyle," according to the US Department of Justice.

Alison-Madueke has since denied any wrong-doing in her relationship with Aluko and Omokore.

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