The United States on Friday said it will confiscate $144 million properties believed to have been acquired by Nigerian oil executives in the United States.
The assets to be seized include an $80 million yacht, known as the Galactica Star, and a $50 million condominium overlooking famed Central Park in New York, United States of America.
Investigators in the US have tied the properties to contracts awarded by former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, between 2011 and 2015.
These revelations were contained in a statement on Friday by the US Department of Justice.
“The United States is not a safe haven for the proceeds of corruption,” acting Assistant Attorney General, Kenneth Blanco, said, adding: “Corrupt foreign officials and business executives should make no mistake: if illicit funds are within the reach of the United States, we will seek to forfeit them and to return them to the victims from whom they were stolen.”
The Department said after awarding the contracts with which the properties were purchased, Alison-Madueke accepted bribes from oil executives, Kolawole Akanni Aluko and Olajide Omokore, who spent millions of dollars buying and furnishing London-area homes with artwork, furniture and other luxury items acquired in Texas, United States of America.
Alison-Madueke allegedly steered lucrative oil contracts to companies owned by Aluko and Omokore, which sold $1.5 billion worth of Nigerian crude.
They then used shell corporations and intermediaries to launder the funds through US banks and buy the assets, which the Justice Department is now seeking to seize.
Under former President Barack Obama, the Justice Department in 2010 launched a “kleptocracy” initiative to recover the ill-gotten gains of corrupt foreign officials.
The initiative has had mixed results, but in 2014 collected a $500 million once held by the former Nigerian dictator, late General Sani Abacha, and his cronies.