For the second time in six months, ex-Petroleum Minister Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke has been told by a London court that she has a case to answer regarding the £27,000 money laundering and bribery allegation made against her by the United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency (NCA).
She will be returning to the court in September this year, after the Westminster Magistrate’s Court granted the request of the NCA on March 31, for another six months to give the agency more time to tighten its case.
Mrs. Madueke will be on bail with her mother Mrs. Beatrice Agama, the lead suspect; son Ugonna Madueke, family friend Ms Melanie Spencer, wife of a Ghanaian oil tycoon, Kevin Okyere; and one of her siblings till the court reconvenes in September.
It is typical of the NCA, drawing its authority from the Proceeds of Crime Act, to ask for more time for its investigations to build a strong case.
The Proceeds of Crime Act says: “The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA) sets out the legislative scheme for the recovery of criminal assets with criminal confiscation being the most commonly used power.”
Confiscation occurs after a conviction has taken place. Other means of recovering the proceeds of crime, which do not require a conviction, are provided for in the Act, namely civil recovery, cash seizure and taxation powers.
The investigation is now global, extending to Nigeria and Switzerland, where billionaire businessman Kola Aluko was questioned and his home raided on the request of the NCA.
Aluko, with Swiss nationality and owner of Atlantic Energy, did some oil deals with NNPC while Alison-Madueke was in charge. He is believed to be a key figure in the money laundering network.
Atlantic Energy signed a lucrative strategic alliance in 2011 with NNPC while Alison-Madueke was in charge of Petroleum Ministry, giving it rights to sell oil from four big blocks on behalf of Nigeria.
Before the oil price crashed, Aluko said the commercial value of the contract was estimated at $7 billion.
Aluko confirmed to the Sunday Times of London last year a probe on potential violations of the United Kingdom Proceeds of Crime Act and Bribery Act, but professed his innocence.
He said: “I am willing to co-operate with anybody. I have nothing to hide.”
The businessman added that he paid the rent on a flat in St John’s Wood in London for Alison-Madueke’s mother, “as well as bringing her ‘hams, sausages and orchids”.
Beatrice, Alison-Madueke, son and others involved in the laundering and bribery allegation risk losing the £27,000 in contention and jail term if the charges were filed and proved against the respondents