$1.7bn fraud: More trouble for Kola Aluko as EFCC writes US, UK, to freeze his accounts
Wanted billionaire businessman, Mr. Kola Aluko, who is also an ally of embattled former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, has sold off at least four properties as he continues to elude authorities.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has, therefore, written to the United States Government asking it to freeze the accounts where the proceeds of the sales were paid into.
Documents seen by our correspondent showed that between May 2016 and August 2017, Aluko had hurriedly sold the properties through an opaque procedure.
The properties sold include: a house at 755 Sarbonne Road, Los Angeles, California, 90077, USA and a house at 952 North Alpine Drive, Beverly Hills, California 80210, the neighbourhood of notable Hollywood stars such as Sylvester Stallone and Steven Spielberg.
Other properties sold by Aluko include: a house at 1948 Tollis Avenue, Santa Barbara, California, USA.
The properties are suspected to have been sold in an off-market transaction using a limited liability company.
An off-market sale in real estate refers to a property that is sold without any form of public advertising.
Forbes Magazine had reported last year that the property located at 755 Sarbonne Road, Los Angeles, was sold for $21.5m, taking a $3m loss after purchasing the sprawling residence in 2012 for $24.5m.
The said property was also sold in a similar manner barely two weeks before the EFCC was able to secure a Federal High Court order granting a Mareva injunction permitting the Nigerian Government to freeze assets owned by Aluko across the world.
Since the order, Aluko was said to have sold another three properties thereby frustrating attempts to seize them.
The EFCC in an application asked the US Government to ensure that the funds obtained from “the sale of the houses are, restrained if possible.”
It was also learnt that the anti-graft agency is seeking the seizure of three private jets allegedly belonging to Aluko as well as a yacht worth over $80m.
Other properties belonging to Aluko which the US Government has filed a civil forfeiture over include: a house at 157 West 57 Street New York, 10028 USA; a house at 1049 Fifth Avenue, New York, 10028 USA; a house at 815 Cima Del Mundo Road Santa Barbara, California, 93018, USA; a house at 807 Cima Del Mundo Road Santa Barbara, California, 93018, USA and a yacht known as Galactica Star worth over $80m.
It was learnt that the EFCC had also written to the British authorities for the forfeiture of Aluko’s assets.
The two properties in the UK include a house at 32 Grove End Road, London and a flat at One Hyde Park, 100 Knightsbridge, SW1X 7U, UK.
It was learnt that the Federal Government had triggered the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty with the British Government for the seizure of the properties.
The commission has also identified five properties belonging to Aluko in Canada, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates.
A source at the EFCC said, “We identified three of Aluko’s properties in Switzerland. They include one at Via Magio 6, Montagnola 6926; one at Vila Floridiana Via Cantonale 176948 Porza Lugano and one at Colina D’Oro Montagnola.
“We have sent a request to the Swiss authorities and it has been vetted by the Swiss authorities. Action will be taken soon. A team from the EFCC is due in the United States and Switzerland any time from now to harmonise the details of the letter.”
For a long time, Aluko had been linked as a business associate of Diezani, who is also currently under investigation by the Nigerian and British authorities for money laundering and embezzlement.
Shortly after she became petroleum minister in 2010, Diezani awarded Aluko’s newly registered company, Atlantic Energy, a very lucrative contract.
Aluko, along with his partner, Jide Omokore, allegedly diverted over $1.7bn in funds that should have been paid into the account of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation as part of the terms of the contract.
Aluko allegedly bought properties for Diezani in the US, the UK and Nigeria which detectives believe are kickbacks.
The properties linked to Diezani, Aluko and Omokore both home and abroad which the Federal Government is trying to seize, are said to be worth over $1bn, according to court documents.
President Muhammadu Buhari is expected to address the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday (today) to demand the repatriation of looted public funds to Nigeria.
The highlight of Buhari’s speech include terrorism and a push for the actualisation of the UN resolution on ‘Promotion of International Cooperation to Combat Illicit Financial Flows’ so that all the countries of the world would be fully engaged in repatriating stolen funds to countries of origin.Punch