- Category: International
- Published on Saturday, 30 June 2012 08:48
- Written by Admin
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MORE troubles came the way of former Bayelsa State Governor, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, on Thursday as the United States Department of Justice executed a forfeiture order against him.
Invoking its “Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative”, the US government agency regards the forfeiture as “the first victory for a fledgling Justice Department initiative dedicated to seeking out assets in the U.S. linked to high-level foreign corruption,” the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.
It disclosed that prosecutors filed court papers against Alamieyeseigha in April 2011 targeting a “$600,000 Maryland home and a Massachusetts brokerage account” belonging to the Governor who held office from 1999 to 2005. According to the p r o s e c u t o r s , Alamieyeseigha’s assets were the proceeds of c o r r u p t i o n .
Alamieyeseigha denied the allegations in court filings. Earlier this month, a U.S. federal district judge in Massachusetts granted a motion for default judgment and civil forfeiture on the brokerage account.
Prosecutors executed the order Thursday. “With a declared income of less than $250,000, Mr. Ala m i e y e s e i g h a accumulated millions of dollars worth of property over a six-year period,” Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer said in a news release, adding:
“Today’s announcement – the first forfeiture judgment obtained under our Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative – sends a powerful message about the United States’ commitment to rooting out corruption far and wide.” A Nigerian court had s e n t e n c e d
Alamieyeseigha to two years in prison in 2007 for failing to declare assets in the country, South Africa and the U.S.
Nigerian Prosecutors said that he bought more than $8 million in properties with bribes he received from contractors while in office.
Alamieyeseigha also pleaded guilty to money laundering on behalf of two companies he controlled — Solomon & Peters Ltd. and Alamieyeseigha and Santolina Investment Corp.
In 2006, the High Court of Justice in London found that three of A l a m i e y e s e i g h a ’s properties there, as well as accounts held by Santolina, represented bribe money or
were traceable to bribes Alamieyeseigha took from contractors in Nigeria.
After he was arrested at Heathrow Airport in 2005, police found about $1.6 million in cash in his house.
A lawyer for Alamieyeseigha didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Under U.S. Laws, the Justice Department can in civil forfeiture cases file complaints in federal court against property, rather than individuals, linked to foreign corruption.
Another forfeiture against Alamieyeseigha’s Maryland house is pending in federal
court in Maryland. The Justice Department didn’t say where the forfeited funds would be
directed. According to the news release, “where appropriate [the Justice Department will] return those proceeds to benefit those harmed.”
A Justice Department spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond to an inquiry about whether or not the funds would be returned to Nigeria.