Looted funds, assets: FG launches fresh moves against ex-govs, ministers, senators

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The Federal Government yesterday launched fresh moves to seize looted funds and suspicious assets traced to some former governors, ministers and senators in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The Attorney-General of the Federation, Mallam Abubakar Malami (SAN), and the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, left for Dubai last night to finalize the forfeiture process.

The number of the affected Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs) under probe were said to be over 20.

Although the names of those implicated were kept under wraps as at the time of filing this report, checks  revealed the following: a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke;  a former Managing Director of the Pipelines and Product Marketing Company (PPMC), Mr. Haruna Momoh(eight suspected assets in Dubai ); a former Managing Director of the defunct Oceanic Bank, Mrs. Cecilia Ibru; a former First Lady;  Senators involved in London-Paris Club scandal; ex-PDP National Chairman; ex-CG of Customs; a former Special Assistant on Domestic Affairs to a former President;  about nine ex-governors and six former ministers.

Nigeria had signed six agreements with the UAE on January 19, 2016 following a state visit by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The pacts include 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).

Investigation by our correspondent revealed that the Federal Government had been collaborating with the UAE authorities on suspicious cash and assets allegedly owned by some Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs).

A top source, who spoke in confidence, said the Federal Government had gathered enough evidence on some of the Nigerian suspects who had stashed public cash in Dubai with choice assets to wit.

The source also said in some cases, the EFCC had secured court orders/Mareva injunctions for the seizure of some of the assets.

Also the source claimed that financial intelligence had confirmed how public funds were wired to UAE by some of the suspects in question.

The source added: “In the last two years, there had been shuttles to  Dubai by the AGF and Magu on some of the slush funds and suspicious assets.

“We are now at the stage of attaching or seizing some of the cash and assets. We have hauled evidence to the place with a view to concluding the process of repatriating the looted funds. In fact, in some instances, a few suspects admitted owning some of these suspected assets in Dubai.

“The UAE law is very strict on suspected assets and looted funds. Nigeria had to provide verifiable evidence before seizure can be allowed.

“From the look of things, we are hopeful that the first set of seizures will soon be agreed upon by the two countries. Those affected are many.”

Responding to some questions, the source added: “I think some cases are straightforward. It is  public knowledge that a former Managing Director of the defunct Oceanic Bank, Mrs. Cecilia Ibru, was convicted. The Federal Government is only trying to attach some suspected assets allegedly owned by her or  traced to her links. It is left to the UAE Government to verify through appropriate agencies whether or not the suspected assets in Dubai are hers.

“The EFCC also has evidence of how some Senators benefited from the London-Paris Club refunds and the shop owners in Dubai used to launder such funds. The financial intelligence sharing by the two countries can uncover this. Apart from seizing the funds, those implicated can be prosecuted in Nigeria for money laundering.

“There are some cases in which we have provided evidence, including some on ex-Minister Diezani, businessman Kola Aluko, a former PPMC MD, Momoh; a former First Lady, a former Special Assistant to an ex-President on Domestic Affairs and some ex-governors and ministers.

“The assets allegedly identified with Diezani are marked as J5 Emirates Hills (30million Dirham) and E146 Emirates Hills valued at 44million Dirham.

Those allegedly traced to Aluko are as follows: 4100 Le Reve Dubai Maria, Dubai;  Unit 1402, PS 14th Floor located at Metro TECOM near Internet City Metro Station, Dubai; Unit 712, ES 7th Floor located at First Central, Off Sheikh Zayed, TECOM, Al-Barsha 3 Dubai and Unit 512, 5th Floor located at First Group Marina Hotels, Al-Seba Street, Plot 394-426, Dubai AE-AJ.

The list of the houses allegedly traced to Momoh  in the United Arab Emirates( UAE)  are at First Group Marina Hotels, Al-Seba Street, Plot 394-426, Dubai, AE-AJ United Arab Emirates;  Unit 503, 1 Bedroom Heritage, 5th Floor located at First Central Dubai Media City TECOM off Sheikh Zayed, TECOM Al- Barsha 3 Dubai; Unit 1910 ES Heritage, 19th Floor located at First Central Dubai Media City TECOM off Sheikh Zayed, TECOM Al- Barsha 3 Dubai; a Unit 2507 Dubai Sports City; Unit 314 Dubai Sports City; and Unit 1002, TECOM BARS 125616.

Others are Unit 1402, PS 14th Floor located at Metro Central, TECOM near Internet City Metro Station, Dubai ( UAE);  Unit 712, ES 7th Floor located at First Central, Off Sheikh Zayeed, TECOM, Al-Barsha 3 Dubai( UAE); Unit 512, 5th Floor located at First Group Marina Hotels, Al-Seba Street, Plot 394-426, Dubai AE-AJ UAE.

Sections 7 of 28 and 34 of the EFCC (Establishment Act) 2004 and Section 13(1) of the Federal High Court Act, 2004 mandate the agency to seize suspicious assets.

Section 7 says: “The commission has power to (a) cause any investigations to be conducted as to whether any person, corporate body or organization has committed any offence under this Act or other law relating to economic and financial crimes.

“(b) Cause investigations to be conducted into the properties of any person if it appears to the commission that the person’s lifestyle and extent of the properties are not justified by his source of income.”

Sections 28 and 34 of the EFCC (Establishment Act) 2004 and Section 13(1) of the Federal High Court Act, 2004 empower the anti-graft agency to invoke Interim Assets Forfeiture Clause.

“Section 28 of the EFCC Act reads: ‘Where a person is arrested for an offence under this Act, the Commission shall immediately trace and attach all the assets and properties of the person acquired as a result of such economic or financial crime and shall thereafter cause to be obtained an interim attachment order from the court.’

Section 13 of the Federal High Court Act reads in part: “The court may grant an injunction or appoint a receiver by an interlocutory order in all cases in which it appears to the court to be just or convenient so to do. (2) Any such order may be made either unconditionally or on such terms and conditions as the court thinks just.”

 

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