Friday, July 21, 2017

USA Africa Dialogue Series - STAR INFORMATION: The Diezani Cronies Oil Money Loop - Following the Money

Following the Diezani Oil Cronies much money in the country, so little to show for it.....


Third man named in Diezani's alleged $1.7 billion U.S. corruption case

Igho Sanomi - CEO and founder of Taleveras Group [Photo: Vanguard]

Igho Sanomi - CEO and founder of Taleveras Group [Photo: Vanguard]

Court documents filed in Houston by the US Justice Department in the assets forfeiture proceedings filed against former peyroleum minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, and her business cronies, Kola Aluko and Jide Omokore, have revealed the third man in the $1.7 billion swindle of Nigeria.

He is Igho Sanomi, one of Nigeria's young billionaires, who owns the Taleveras Oil Group.

Taleveras, along with oil traders Arcadia and Glencore, were found to have paid $1.2 billion into Kola Aluko's account in Switzerland, proceeds from crude oil lifted from Aluko and Omokore's company.

This money, the US Justice Department contends, was used to fund Mrs. Alison-Madueke's luxury lifestyle. But in a statement Wednesday, Taleveras said its involvement in the alleged dubious transactions followed best international practices, as a third party.

"This legal case is not against Taleveras or Igho Sanomi.

"As it relates to the US department case against Atlantic Drilling, please note that Taleveras and the other two major oil trading houses (Glencore and Arcadia) were not faulted for embarking on a legitimate transaction, as all payments were made based on legitimate third party contracts with private companies and not NNPC," the company said.

Mrs. Alison-Madueke, as oil minister between 2010 and 2015, used her influence to facilitate inappropriate business opportunities for Messrs. Aluko and Omokore by assigning to their companies, Atlantic Energy Drilling Concepts (AEDC) Limited and Atlantic Energy Brass Development (AEBD) Limited, eight oil mining leases (OMLs).

The OMLs were assigned under Strategic Alliance Agreements (SAAs) with the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). Despite lacking the technical expertise and financial capacity to operate the OMLs, as noted in a February 2014 report of the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mrs. Alison-Madueke greenlighted the process for her cronies.

What followed, said US prosecutors, was the sale by AEDC and AEBD of the oil-lifting allocations they were assigned under the Forcados and Brass SAAs to third-party oil trading companies. They made tonnes of money, by not fulfilling the obligations stated in the agreements, using some of it to bribe Mrs. Alison-Madueke.

Court papers show that Taleveras Group, one of the third-party oil trading companies, paid copious sums into Mr. Aluko's personal accounts.

The stream of payments, prosecutors observed, began shortly after the award of the Forcados SAAs. Over a period of six months, Mr. Aluko received the sum of $15million in his personal account domiciled at LGT Bank (Schweiz) AG in Switzerland (the "LGT -090038 Account"), from which various purchases for Mrs. Alison-Madueke were funded. The money came from Taleveras Group and its affiliates, including Taleveras Trading Limited and and Taleveras Petroleum Trading BV.

On July 12, 2011, prosecutors found that the sum of $1.5million was wired from Taleveras to Mr. Aluko's account. Two days later, the sum of $1million also arrived the account from RFB Lengard JVA in which Mr. Igho Sanomi, founder and chairman of Taleveras, owns 30 per cent stake. Another $1million arrived on July 20, 2011, from Taleveras Trading Limited. This was followed on 15 August 2011 by $1million wired by Taleveras to Mr. Aluko's account in Switzerland as payment for a Joint Venture contract with RFB Lengard. The same day, he received $650,000 from the same source.

On September 12, 2011, Taleveras Trading Limited paid $1million and $1.6million four days later. On 5 October of the same year, Mr. Aluko's account was credited with $1.5million by Taleveras Petroleum Trading BV and $500,000 six days later. The next batch of cash arrived on 14 November 2011, when his account received $2million wired by Taleveras Group. On January 3 and 10 2012, $600,000 and $1million respectively were paid by Taleveras Petroleum Trading BV.

Prosecutors reckoned that the payments were made to Mr. Aluko in return for assigning the AEDC's rights to Taleveras and RFB Lengard to lift oil under the corruptly acquired SAAs.

They discovered that each of the transactions was subsequently transferred into and out of correspondent bank accounts at a financial institution, which processes its U.S. dollar wire transactions through Newark, New Jersey.

According to prosecutors, AEDC entered into an agreement with the Arcadia Group and its subsidiaries, from which AEDC purportedly took loans. In return, Arcadia was repaid with assignments of AEDC's crude oil liftings under the dodgy SAAs. The company describes itself as a "global commodity trading firm covering oil, agricultural, gas and power markets".

"In particular, two months after the last payment from Taleveras, Arcadia Energy (Suisse) SA and Arcadia Petroleum Limited began making payments to an account held in the name of AEH at LGT Bank (Schweiz) AG ending in -108031 (the LGT -108031 Account)," said prosecutors.

On April 18, 2012, Arcadia paid $10million into the above stated account. On May 14 of the same year, it paid $1.3million and on July 23,

$2.4million. On July 24, 2012, the company paid $1.3million into the same account. Less than a month later, it paid $2.9million into the same account and followed it up with a whopping $25million September 17, 2012

The next day, it paid $2.091million into the same account. This preceded a hefty transfer of $23.4million on January 8, 2013. A couple of days later, Arcadia paid $1.6million and on February 4, 2013, wired $2million to the account. This was followed by the payment of $1.1million, $6million and $1.7million respectively.

The stunt continued with payments to a company, Glencore, by AEBD, which sold to Glencore over 7million barrels of crude oil acquired through the Brass SAA. Glencore's payments for these allotments, said prosecutors, were made to an account in the name of AEBD ending in 184001 at Deutsche Bank (Suisse) SA and an account ending in -630350 in the name of AEBD at Standard Chartered Bank, London. They were also made into accounts in the name of AEBD ending in 677644 at Standard Chartered Bank, London; and 9941 at Stanbic IBTC, Nigeria.

Glencore, for example, paid $83.6million to AEBD on April 5, 2013; $80.5million, $79.4million on July 4, $19.8million July 17, $19.5million on July 19 and $83.4million on July 21.

*Taleveras full statement:

The attention of Taleveras legal team have been drawn to online publications related with a case against Atlantic Drilling Fluids. This legal case is not against Taleveras or Igho Sanomi.

Some of these publications are misleading, grossly inaccurate, it is thus proper to set the record straight.

One of Taleveras core activities since 2000, is sourcing, trading and engaging in third party contracts, inclusive of oil and gas upstream operations. Taleveras due to its capacity, trading expertise and financial strength, continues to source and engage in procuring third party oil contracts.

Taleveras performs on these contracts handling the physical delivery, risk management and logistics from start point to its numerous first class end users and major refiners. This process involves verification of the contracts with the issuing authority to authenticate and further compliance with our lending banks internal due diligence processes. This is no different from International Trading Standards performed by the numerous international and major oil and gas companies operating in Nigeria.

As it relates to the US department case against Atlantic Drilling, please note that Taleveras and the other two major oil trading houses (Glencore and Arcadia) were not faulted for embarking on a legitimate transaction, as all payments were made based on legitimate third party contracts with private companies and not NNPC.

This is indeed compared to a buyer of a property who embarks on verification of property title documents with the issuing authority and upon verification, goes into a sales contract and then makes contractual payment to the seller. The Buyer certainly has no business in whatever the seller does with his proceeds from the sale.

In concluding, the ultimate aim of contracting is to off-take crude oil from asset productions. It is worthy to note that neither Taleveras nor its associated companies lifted any oil from this production through Atlantic. Terms of the agreement were breached and hence a legal dispute and appropriate filings made in respected court of jurisdiction.

We will thus refrain from making further comments."


Court grants Alison-Madueke's associate, Omokore; Andrew Yakubu, conditional bail

Andrew Yakubu  Photo:
Andrew Yakubu

A Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja, has granted bail to the chairman of Atlantic Energy Drilling Concept; a former Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Andrew Yakubu, and four others.

Mr. Omokore, an ally of former Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, and Mr. Yakubu were charged along with a co-owner of Atlantic Energy, Kola Aluko; Victor Briggs; Abiye Memnere; David Mbanefo; Atlantic Energy Brass Development Limited and Atlantic Energy Drilling Concepts Limited.

Justice Binta Murtala-Nyako, who gave the ruling, ordered the defendants to provide bail bonds of N50 million each, with one surety in like sum.

The surety should have properties in Abuja and should depose to affidavit of means; while the defendants should submit their international passport or passports.

They are also to remain in the court premises until they meet their bail conditions.

Earlier the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had struck out the name of one of the defendants, Kola Aluko, who is said to be at large.

Mr. Aluko jointly owns Atlantic Energy with Mr. Omokore. The company was allegedly used for the diversion of N400 million in the guise of importing petroleum products in 2011.

The prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, had asked the judge to remove Mr. Aluko's name from the charge sheet since he (Mr. Aluko) could not be reached and had not been served the notice of summons.

Mr. Jacobs had argued that the prosecution was not under compulsion to produce a defendant at large before arraigning other co-accused in the same matter.

But counsel to one of the defendants, Tayo Oyetibo, said the fact that one of the defendants had not been served with the court processes was a fundamental defect that would affect the entire proceeding.

"Section 266 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act states that there is no trial without arraignment, or service of charge," Mr. Oyetibo said.

Mr. Oyetibo said the prosecution had forced an adjournment of the matter on June 20 to allow it to ensure the full participation of all parties involved in the case.

He said the inability of the prosecution to provide a proof of service for one of the defendants was a defect that should not be overlooked.

But Justice Murtala-Nyako ruled that the outcome of the trial would affect all those involved in the charge.

She however noted that a defendant at large could still be served with his notice of summons, and ruled that unless the prosecution employed other methods to serve the missing defendant, the charge could not be said to be ripe for reading to the other defendants.

In response to the ruling by Justice Murtala-Nyako, Mr. Jacobs asked that defendant Aluko be removed from the list of defendants.

He had earlier told the court that the charge was amended to include a nine-count charge, which was later read to the other defendants.

They pleaded not guilty to the charges and the trial was adjourned to October 19 and 20.

In 2011, during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Atlantic Energy, alongside other companies, was allegedly given multibillion dollar worth of public assets without due process.

As at the time, the company, which was barely a year old and had no history of producing a droplet of oil, was awarded controlling stakes in two lucrative oil blocks – OML 30 and 34 – for just over $50 million each.

The deal, which was signed by the immediate past minister of petroleum, Diezani Alison-Madueke, gave Atlantic Energy Limited a controlling 55 percent stake in the oil block.

Interestingly, Shell, which owned the remaining 45 per cent stake, fetched $1.3 billion for a single field after an open and competitive bidding process.

Incorporated as Atlantic Drilling Energy Concept Limited on July 19, 2010, it signed a Strategic Alliance Agreement with the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) shortly afterwards.

The NPDC is the upstream production subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.

Under the agreement, Atlantic took charge of four oil blocks- OML 26 FHN, OML 30 Shoreline, OML 34 Niger-Delta Oil and OML 42 Neconde. It was to provide funds, technical services, drill and sell crude oil.

The company was also accused of lifting crude oil, but remitting only a fraction of its worth to government.

In 2012, according to NNPC insiders, Atlantic Energy paid $168m into government account, but lifted about three million barrels – valued at over $350 million.

In 2013, it also lifted about two million barrels of crude valued at about $240million, but paid only $68million.

Similarly, in 2014, Atlantic Energy paid zero cash-call, but lifted about 500,000 barrels of crude oil, valued at $54 million.

Mr. Yakubu was the GMD of the NNPC between 2012 and 2014 when Atlantic Energy lifted oil without remitting what was due to government.



Nigerian govt seeks worldwide seizure of multibillion dollar assets of ex-President Jonathan's allies

Jide Omokore
Jide Omokore

The Nigerian government on Monday kicked off legal processes that will enable it freeze local and foreign assets of Jide Omokore and Kola Aluko, allies of former petroleum minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, who are being investigated in connection with a series of multi-billion dollar petrol import and crude export deals.

Mr. Omokore, who is also an ally of former President Goodluck Jonathan, is the chairman of Atlantic Energy Concept Nigerian Limited (AEDC) and Atlantic Energy Brass Development Limited (AEBD). Both companies were listed as the first and second defendants in the suit.

Atlantic Energy Limited was one of the companies that allegedly received multibillion dollar worth of public assets without due process by the Jonathan administration in 2011.

The company, which was created less than a year earlier and had not produced a droplet of oil, was awarded controlling stakes in two lucrative oil blocks – OML 30 and 34 – for just over $50 million each.

The deal, which was signed by the immediate past minister of petroleum, Diezani Alison-Madueke, gave Atlantic Energy Limited a controlling 55 percent stake in the oil block.

Curiously, Shell, which owned the remaining 45 per cent stake, fetched $1.3 billion for a single field after an open and competitive bidding process.

The Federal Government, alongside its co-plaintiff, Nigerian Petroleum Development Company Limited (NPDC) and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), filed a motion before a Federal High Court in Lagos, seeking an order of mareva injunction, directing 19 Nigerian banks, eight foreign banks and eight local and international firms to freeze the funds and assets they hold on behalf of the Mr. Omokore, Mr. Aluko, AEDC, and AEDB.

The government is also seeking an order to freeze several local and international luxury properties owned by the defendants, including the Galatica Star, a $50 million "Super yatch" owned by Mr. Aluko and three private jets.

According to the motion ex-parte, Oladipo Okpeseyi, lead counsel to the Federal Government, prayed the court for an order restraining the defendants from "giving any sale or transfer instruction, demanding, accepting or receiving any payment or sale or dividend on the shares owned by the defendants," in any of any of the eight local and international companies.

The company include Mia Hotels Limited, First Motors Limited, V.I Petrochemical, Evergreen Realty and Management, Ox Trade Limited, De First Union Integrated Services, Amity Plus Limited, and Seven Energy International Limited.

The government is also asking the court for an order to "confiscate within seven days of all sums of money and negotiable instruments of credit of the defendants domestic accounts held in 19 domestic banks.  The government estimated the total sum held by the defendant to be $1.76 billion.

The plaintiffs also prayed the court for an order for a freeze on sale or mortgage on the following properties in Nigeria and abroad: Houses on 755 Sarbonne Road, Los Angeles, 952 North Alphine Drive, Los Angeles, 815 Cima Del Mondo, Los Angeles, 1049 Fifth Avenue, New York, 1948 and 1952 Tollis Avenue, Santa Barbara, 157 West 57thStreet, New York, and 4100 Le Reve Dubai.

Other Houses include, Avenue Towers, Lagos, Colina D'Oro Montagnola, Switzerland, Block A consisting of 26 Flats at No 46, Gerrard Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, Mason apartments situated at No6 Gerrard Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, Marion Apartment located at 4 and 5 Onikoyi Estate, Banana Island, Ikoyi, 33A Cooper Road Ikoyi, Lagos, 8 Gerrard Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, Griove End Road, London, Land, 807 Cima Del Mundo, Mont Tremblant, Canada.

Other assets the government is also requesting to be seized are the Galatica Star yatch, a 20-year Berth Lease in Barcelona, Watch collection, a collection of 58 vehicles, a Global Express S5-GMG jet, a Bombadier Global 600 9H-OPE, Bombardier.

When the case came up for hearing, the lead counsel for the defendants, Tokunbo Jaiye-Agoro, told the trial judge, Oluremi Oguntoyinbo, that they were served the motion in court. He, therefore, requested an adjournment for defence counsel to study the motion and come up with its response.

The judge subsequently adjourned the case to the 29 June, 2016 for allow the counsels of the defendants to response to the motion


U.S. prosecutors expose how Alison-Madueke, Omokore, Aluko blew billions on 'lavish lifestyle'

Former Petroleum Miniister, Diezani Allison-Madueke
Former Petroleum Miniister, Diezani Allison-Madueke

Prosecutors in the United States have provided details of how Nigeria's former minister of petroleum, Diezani Alison-Madueke, and her two businessmen-allies, Jide Omokore and Kola Aluko, lavished billions of naira on property and luxury items in the U.S. and United Kingdom.

The trio have, in the last two years, been at the centre of many investigations and court actions around management of Nigeria's oil industry.

Last year, the Nigerian government filed for a court order for world-wide seizure of multi-billion naira asset linked to the two men, described as close allies of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan and Mrs. Alison-Madueke.

In a civil forfeiture notice filed by the U.S. Department of Justice, DoJ, on Friday, prosecutors narrated how the two businessmen allegedly conspired to bribe the former minister purchasing property worth millions of dollars in London for Mrs. Alison-Madueke and her family.


Prosecutors described the two men as financiers of the former minister's lavish lifestyle'.

The two are accused of  buying a total of four residential properties in and around London worth 11.45 million, and furnished them with furniture, artwork and other luxury items, the Financial Times reports.

In one day in May 2012, Mr. Aluko was said to have wired $461,500 and $262,091 to two furniture stores in Houston from a Swiss bank account, on behalf of Mrs. Alison-Madueke, the civic complaint claimed.

The bribe, according to prosecutors, was in exchange of $1.5 billion worth of oil deal awarded  to two shell companies linked to the two men.

Prosecutors described  the two companies as "unqualified" for the deal but were nonetheless given the contracts for sale of crude oil worth $1.5 billion.

The businessmen then allegedly plotted more shell companies to launder the proceeds through the United States.

PREMIUM TIMES had reported on how Mr. Omokore was quizzed by operatives of EFCC over  allegations of fraud and diversion through his company, Atlantic Energy.  Mr. Omokere was later charged to the court alongside his alleged accomplices.


U.S. prosecutors are now moved  to seize $144 million in asset linked the two men, comprising a 200-foot yacht and a Manhattan property one block from Central Park, describing them as fruits of an international bribery scheme.

Among the asset is Mr Aluko's vessel, Galactica Star, described as "world's largest fast displacement yacht", along with condominium units in Manhattan and real estate in Southern California.

"The United States is not a safe haven for the proceeds of corruption,"  Financial Times quoted acting assistant attorney-general Kenneth Blanco as saying. "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."



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