United States to Repatriate Nearly $1 Million to Federal Republic of Nigeria
The Department of Justice announced today that it is sharing approximately $954,807 with the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (Nigeria) in accordance with an agreement between the governments to repatriate assets the United States forfeited that were traceable to the kleptocracy of former Governor of the State of Bayelsa in Nigeria, Diepreye Solomon Peter Alamieyeseigha.
“Today’s result would not have been possible without significant cooperation between the United States and its international partners in our common fight against corruption and the laundering of corruption proceeds,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “Our repatriation of the forfeited funds is an illustration of the United States’ commitment – through its Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative – to making the victims of corruption whole.”
Alamieyeseigha, known as DSP, now deceased, served as the elected governor of the oil-producing Bayelsa State from 1999 until his impeachment in 2005. As alleged in the U.S. forfeiture complaints, 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. While he was governor, DSP accumulated property worth millions of dollars through corrupt and illegal activities, including property in Rockville, Maryland.
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. The company, instead of DSP himself, pleaded guilty to money laundering in Nigeria in 2007.
In May 2013, U.S. District Court Judge Roger W. Titus of the District of Maryland granted a motion for a default judgment and issued a final decree of forfeiture following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations’ (HSI) Asset Identification and Removal Group in Baltimore. The order extinguished all prior title and authorized forfeiture of the private residence located in Rockville to the United States and the property was sold. In a related action in the District of Massachusetts, the Justice Department and HSI successfully forfeited approximately $400,000 from an investment account traceable to DSP.
Under the agreement announced today, the United States agrees to transfer 100% of the net forfeited assets to Nigeria to support improvements in health care centers across Bayelsa State in the form of rehabilitation, refurbishment, and equipping such centers as requested by the Bayelsa government. The agreement includes key measures to ensure transparency and accountability, including consultation with the governments of the United States and Bayelsa State, financial review by an independent auditor whose reports will be published periodically, and monitoring by an independent civil society organization with expertise in project management whose reports will also be published periodically. Specifically, the agreement requires consultation with the government of Bayelsa State and the United States in the recruitment and competitive selection of implementors and monitors, and their work plans and budgets. The agreement also precludes the expenditure of funds to benefit alleged perpetrators of the corruption. The agreement reflects the sound principles for ensuring transparency and accountability adopted at the Global Forum on Asset Recovery (GFAR) in December 2017 in Washington, D.C., which the United States and United Kingdom hosted with support from the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative of the World Bank and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
The department appreciates the extensive assistance provided by the Federal Government of Nigeria in this case. The department also thanks the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs and HSI as well as the U.S. Department of State for its assistance in negotiating and facilitating the return in this matter.
This case was brought under the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative by a team of dedicated prosecutors in the Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section working in partnership with the FBI. Through the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative, the Department of Justice and federal law enforcement agencies seek to safeguard the U.S. financial system from criminal money laundering and to recover the proceeds of foreign official corruption. Where appropriate and possible, the department endeavors to use recovered corruption proceeds to benefit the people harmed by acts of corruption and abuse of public trust.
Individuals with information about possible proceeds of foreign corruption located in or laundered through the United States should contact federal law enforcement or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.