UK Lays Bribery Charges On Ex-Nigerian Oil Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke

Published: 24 August 2023

Diezani Madueke NigeriaFormer Nigerian oil minister Diezani Alison-Madueke allegedly accepted bribes worth £100,000 in exchange for issuing energy contracts. (Photo: World Economic Forum, Flickr, License)

By Henry Pope

British authorities charged Tuesday Diezani Alison-Madueke, Nigeria’s former oil minister, with bribery offenses pertaining to multi-million pound oil and gas contracts that she approved for personal gain while still in office.

National Crime Agency (NCA) investigators allege that Alison-Madueke, 63, profited by as much as 100,000 pounds (US$127,000), all under the table, during her time as Nigeria’s Minister for Petroleum Resources from 2010 to 2015.

During this period, in 2014, she was also elected president of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

The various bribes came in the form of cash, private jet flights, and luxury holidays, among other undisclosed gifts.

“We suspect Diezani Alison-Madueke abused her power in Nigeria and accepted financial rewards for awarding multi-million pound contracts,” said Andy Kelly, Head of the NCA’s International Corruption Unit.

The move by the NCA is but one development in a longstanding, multi-national investigation into the former oil minister’s alleged corruption, which has seen millions of pounds worth of assets frozen and $53.1 million more recovered by the U.S. Department of Justice.

American prosecutors alleged back in March that the proceeds of energy contracts illicitly awarded by Alison-Madueke—totaling over $100 million—were laundered through the U.S. luxury real estate market. The money was also allegedly used to purchase a 65-meter superyacht where Beyoncé celebrated her 32nd birthday.

Agents attached to the NCA investigation have also worked in tandem with Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), whose work on the case resulted in two Nigerian election officials receiving seven and eight-year prison sentences back in 2019.

During their trial, the EFCC argued that the two officials were conspirators in a scheme with Alison-Madueke to use $115 million in bribes to rig the outcome of Nigeria’s 2015 presidential election.

The man they backed, however, then incumbent Goodluck Jonathan, ultimately lost his bid to remain in power.

Alison-Madueke has previously asserted that she has never stolen any money from Nigeria.

“Bribery is a pervasive form of corruption, which enables serious criminality and can have devastating consequences for developing countries,” Kelly said. “We will continue to work with partners here and overseas to tackle the threat.”

The former oil minister, who currently resides in St John’s Wood, an affluent London borough, is set to appear before the Westminster Magistrates Court on October 2 later this year.