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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, May 31, 2013
Rockville, Md., Property Purchased with Nigerian Corruption Proceeds Forfeited Through Justice Department’s Kleptocracy Initiative

A forfeiture judgment was executed today against real property with an estimated value of more than $700,000 in Rockville, Md., that had been purchased with corruption proceeds traceable to Diepreye Solomon Peter Alamieyeseigha, a former Governor of Bayelsa State, Nigeria, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Criminal Division and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton.

“Foreign officials who think they can use the United States as a stash-house are sorely mistaken,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Raman.  “Through the Kleptocracy Initiative, we stand with the victims of foreign official corruption as we seek to forfeit the proceeds of corrupt leaders’ illegal activities.”

“This investigation was initiated by ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Asset Identification & Removal Group (AIRG) in Baltimore, in an effort to recover the criminal proceeds from Diepreye Solomon Peter Alamieyeseigha’s assets, whose shell companies were convicted of money laundering offenses in Nigeria,” said ICE Director Morton.  “HSI’s AIRG will continue working with the Department of Justice to seek to recover illicit proceeds gained through foreign corruption and to protect the U.S. financial system from being utilized by criminals.”

Alamieyeseigha, aka DSP, was the elected governor of oil-producing Bayelsa State in Nigeria from 1999 until his impeachment in 2005.  As alleged in the U.S. forfeiture complaint, DSP’s official salary for this entire period was approximately $81,000, and his declared income from all sources during the period was approximately $248,000.  Nevertheless, while governor, DSP accumulated millions of dollars’ worth of property located around the world through corruption and other illegal activities.  The complaint alleges that DSP acquired the Rockville property during his first term as governor of Bayelsa State with funds obtained through corruption, abuse of office, money laundering and other violations of Nigerian and U.S. law.  Title to the property was transferred to Solomon & Peters, Ltd., a shell corporation controlled by DSP and on whose behalf the former governor entered a guilty plea to money laundering in Nigeria in 2007. 

On May 24, 2013, U.S. District Court Judge Roger W. Titus of the District of Maryland granted a motion for a default judgment filed by the Criminal Division’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section and issued a final decree of forfeiture.  The order extinguishes all prior title and authorizes forfeiture to the United States of the private residence located in Rockville, Maryland, estimated to be worth more than $700,000 and allows the United States to liquidate the property in accordance with federal law.  In a related action in the District of Massachusetts, the Department of Justice and ICE Homeland Security Investigations successfully forfeited approximately $400,000 from an investment account traceable to DSP. 

Both actions were brought under the Justice Department’s Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative announced by the Attorney General in 2010.  Through this initiative, the Department of Justice, along with federal law enforcement agencies, seeks to identify and forfeit the proceeds of foreign official corruption, and where possible and appropriate return those corruption proceeds for the benefit of the people of the nations harmed by the corruption. 

The case was investigated by the HSI’s Asset Identification & Removal Group (AIRG) in Baltimore. The case was prosecuted by Assistant Deputy Chief Daniel H. Claman and Trial Attorney Tracy Mann of the Criminal Division’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section, with assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the District of Maryland. 

Individuals with information about possible proceeds of foreign corruption in the United States, or funds laundered through institutions in the United States, should contact Homeland Security Investigations or other federal law enforcement, or send an email to kleptocracy@usdoj.gov. 

 

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