How £12.5 million UK house put Diezani in trouble

*Westminister magistrates court.

*Westminister magistrates court.

06 October 2015, Lagos – THERE were indications on Monday on how a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke and a former Managing Director of a parastatal under the NNPC got themselves into trouble with the police in the United Kingdom.

The PUNCH learnt that the purchase of houses each in London by the former minister and the sacked NNPC top shot had sent the police investigators after them since 2013.

Alison-Madueke and the ex-MD had bought a house each in London through a mortgage but the two were said to have attracted suspicion when they offered to pay huge sum to clear the mortgage on the properties.

A source said the ex-minister’s house cost £12.5m. The source was however silent on the cost of the house bought by the former MD of the subsidiary of the NNPC.

It was learnt that the UK’s National Crimes Agency had dispatched a team to Abuja for an investigation into the incomes of the affected public officers because of the huge amount of money that was being paid steadily to defray the amount on the mortgage.

The source explained that the police suspected that the mortgaged London properties might have been serviced with laundered money from the Government of Nigeria.

The source said, “This particular investigation did not originate from Nigeria. I can tell you that this is different from the investigation being conducted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission into the financial operations of the NNPC under Alison-Madueke.

“This is a strictly UK investigation and it has to do with the procurement of a property in the UK for £12.5m through a mortgage arrangement in London.

“The UK authorities became suspicious when they realised that the agreed monthly amount for the mortgage was too high for the income of a public official without other sources of income.

“You know the (UK) people; they kept quiet when the whole arrangement was going on in 2013. They allowed the funds to go into their economy before they moved in against them with the intent to seize the properties.

“She was not the only person that bought the properties. The other guy, a close ally from the NNPC also bought a house in London. These are the issues the UK police are investigating.”

The investigation, which commenced in 2013 climaxed Friday last week with the arrest of Alison-Madueke and four others by the UK police for alleged fraud.

The EFCC raided the residence of the ex-minister at Asokoro same day she was arrested in the UK.

Although the raid did not yield any huge financial recovery contrary to media reports, the operatives from the Subsidy Unit of the EFCC carted away several documents from the residence.

The EFCC operatives, who insisted that only N1.2m was recovered from the Asokoro residence of the minister, said that the files moved away from her house were being analysed.

When contacted, the spokesperson for the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, on Monday declined to comment on the Alison-Madueke saga.

Uwujaren said he did not know anything about the ex-minister’s case.

Meanwhile, the British National Crime Agency on Monday obtained court permission to temporarily seize £27,000 (N8.078m) from a former petroleum resources minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, Reuters reports.

The ex-President Goodluck Jonathan’s oil minister between 2010 and 2015 and her cohorts were arrested in London last Friday and charged with money laundring offences.

Reuters quoted an administrative officer at the Westminster Magistrates’ Court as saying on Monday that the NCA had applied to the court for an order to seize various sums of money in relation to Alison-Madueke and two other women for up to six months.

The administrative officer did not provide any information on the link between the three women.

The NCA had on Friday issued a short statement saying its International Corruption Unit had arrested five people in London as part of an inquiry into suspected bribery and money laundering offences.

The NCA did not name those arrested but said all five had been released on conditional police bail, pending further investigations in Britain and overseas. It said the investigation had started in 2013.

But the Federal Government through presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, had confirmed late on Sunday the arrest of the former minister and that “the government of Nigeria is collaborating with the UK authority in the investigations and her trial.”
*Fidelis Soriwei & Adelani Adepegba with Agency Reports – Punch

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