US Recovers $53 million in Profits from Corruption in Nigerian Oil Industry

After having tried for over five years to forfeit profits that were obtained through corruption in the Nigerian oil industry and laundered in the U.S, the Department of Justice said this week that it has recovered over US$53 million with another $16 million still to come.

Diezani MaduekeDiezani Alison-Madueke. (Photo: World Economic Forum, Flickr, License)Two Nigerian businessmen, Kolawole Akanni Aluko and Olajide Omokore, were accused of conspiring with others between 2011 and 2015 to pay bribes to Nigeria’s former Minister for Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, in exchange for her help in steering lucrative oil contracts to their companies.

“Corrupt foreign officials and business executives should know that if they have illicit funds within the reach of the U.S., action will be taken to seize those funds and return them to their rightful owners, the victims from whom they were stolen,” said U.S. Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco.

The DOJ said an investigation initiated by the FBI and the IRS found that the proceeds of these illicitly awarded contracts, totaling over $100 million, were laundered in and through the U.S. and used to purchase various assets, including luxury real estate in California and New York, as well as the 65-meter superyacht Galactica Star in which Beyoncé spent her 32nd birthday.

Alison-Madueke, who is believed to be residing in the United Kingdom, is said to have stolen millions from the Nigerian government while she was minister. Despite her denial of the allegations, Nigeria’s anti corruption agency has sought her extradition to stand trial.

The U.S. government recovers these assets under the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative, which aims to forfeit illicit proceeds of foreign officials and give them to the people harmed by these acts of corruption and abuse of office.