WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) — The U.S. Department of Justice announced July 14 that it has filed a civil complaint against Nigerian businessmen, seeking the forfeiture and recovery of roughly $144 million in assets that are purportedly proceeds stemming from foreign corruption laundered through the United States.
“The United States is not a safe haven for the proceeds of corruption,” acting assistant attorney general Kenneth A. Blanco said. “The complaint announced demonstrates the department’s commitment to working with our law enforcement partners around the globe to trace and recover the proceeds of corruption, no matter the source. 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 U.S. alleges from 2011 to 2015, Nigerian businessmen Kolawole Akanni Aluko and Olajide Omokore bribed Nigeria’s former minister for petroleum resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, who managed Nigeria’s state-owned oil company. The minister helped secure contracts for Aluko and Omokore in return. According to the complaint, illicit contracts were then laundered through the U.S.
“Business executives who engage in bribery and illegal payoffs in order to obtain contracts create an uneven marketplace where honest competitor companies are put at a disadvantage,” said FBI assistant director Andrew Vale. “Along with the Department of Justice, international law enforcement partners and other U.S. federal agencies, the FBI is committed to pursuing all those who attempt to advance their businesses through corrupt practices.”