Oscarline Onwuemenyi, with agency reports
19 September 2017, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has disclosed that its detectives are searching for a Bombardier jet believed to have been bought with cash from the $1.5 billion oil slush funds by some business associates of a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.
It was learnt that the jet was flown out of the country a few days before President Muhammadu Buhari’s inauguration in 2015.
Also, the anti-graft agency has intensified efforts to secure the permanent forfeiture of 19 choice assets traced to Mr. Kola Aluko, one of the four business associates of the ex-minister.
The 19 assets have been located by the EFCC in Canada, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the United Kingdom (UK), the United States (U.S.) and Switzerland.
Top on the list of the assets is a Euro 63 million Galactica Star (yatch) with the value now put at about Euro 82 million.
The EFCC detectives are believed to be probing whether the aircraft has been sold or its ownership changed to make it difficult to trace it.
The EFCC uncovered how the jet was paid for by Mrs. Alison-Madueke’s associates through the $1.5 billion slush oil account in Switzerland.
A top EFCC source said: “So far, investigation confirmed that a bombardier jet was bought with part of the $1.5 billion oil cash by one of the business associates of the ex-minister.
“We have been unable to locate the whereabouts of the aircraft. We have the initial identity of the aircraft, but it has been difficult to trace.
“Our detectives are suspecting a likely change of the identity of the jet or possible sale of the plane. We are trying to track down the movement log of the plane, including the possibility of deceptive entry of its last destination.”
The source added that, “We are networking with all relevant international agencies to locate the aircraft wherever it is in any part of the globe.”
Asked if the ‘missing bombardier jet’ has any link with the controversial N1.5 billion used to hire Challenger 850(bombardier) C-G jet during the tenure of the ex-minister, the source added: “We will probe this clue after locating the aircraft and interacting with some of the business associates.”
The ex-minister was implicated in 2014 for allegedly engaging a private Challenger jet to cope with her “tight schedule”.
The monthly cost of the hired bombardier jet was put at N130 million but the total expenditure was put at about N10 billion.
The attempt to probe the deal by the House of Representatives was stopped by a Federal High Court in Abuja.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed said the House did not follow due process in summoning the ex-minister.
The EFCC source said plans were at an advanced stage to secure permanent forfeiture of 19 assets traced to Aluko.
A Federal High Court in Lagos had on June 24, 2016 invoked the Interim Forfeiture Order allowing the EFCC Establishment Act to seize the properties.
The affected assets are mostly in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the United Kingdom, Canada, Switzerland and the United States (U.S.).
They are a plot of land in Mont Tremblant (Canada) and some houses in the United Arab Emirates, including 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.
Those in Switzerland are at Colina D’Oro Montagnola, Switzerland; Via Magio 6 Montagnola 6926 Switzerland; and Vila Floridiana via Cantonale 17, 6948 Porza Lugano, Switzerland
Others located in the United States and the United Kingdom are: 755 Sarbonne Road, Los Angeles, California 90077USA; 952 North Alpine Drive Beverly Hills, California 80210 USA; 157 West 57th Street New York 10028, USA; 1049 Fifth Avenue New York 10028, USA; 815 Cimal Del Mundo Road Santa Barbara, California 93108, USA; 1948 Tollis Avenue Santa Barbara California 93108; 1952 Tollis Avenue Santa Barbara California 93108, USA; 807 Cimal Del Mundo Road Santa Barbara, California 93108, USA; 32 Grove End Road, London NW8 9LI UK; and Flat D.03.01 One Hyde Park 100 Knight Bridge SW1X 7U, UK.
Capping the list is the €63 million Galactica Star, which the U.S. Department of Justice claimed that the ex-minister had warned Aluko against buying.
Giving the extent of the process of the application for the final forfeiture order of Aluko’s 19 assets, an EFCC source said: “The EFCC has intensified efforts to secure the permanent forfeiture of properties and other assets linked to Aluko, an accomplice to former petroleum resources minister in the mega scam that rocked the Nigeria oil industry during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
A Nigerian court had on June 24, 2016 ordered the temporary forfeiture of most of the assets, which are located in the U.S. and Switzerland.
“The Nigerian anti-graft agency has opened communication with the United States and Swiss authorities with a view to getting the interim forfeiture order given in Suit No. FHN/ABJ/CS/228/16 registered for enforcement.
“I think Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) letters will be sent as soon as the office of the Attorney General of the Federation gives the approval.
“An EFCC team is due in the United States and Switzerland to harmonise the details of the MLAT letter.”