Nigeria’s ex-oil minister Diezani charged with bribery in the UK

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Diezani Alison-Madueke, Nigeria's ex minister of petroleum

She is suspected of accepting financial rewards for awarding multi-million dollar oil and gas contracts.

A key figure in ex-President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, she also served as the first female president of the oil exporters group OPEC.

The 63-year-old, who has been on bail since her arrest in London in 2015, has denied corruption allegations.

Diezani Alison-Madueke, Nigeria’s minister of petroleum, speaks during the closing news conference at the 157th Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) meeting in Vienna, Austria, on Thursday, October 14, 2010. Oil climbed for a second day in New York after an industry-funded report showed U.S. crude supplies fell and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries moved closer to improving compliance with production cuts. Photographer: Vladimir Weiss/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Assets worth millions of pounds relating to the alleged offenses have been frozen as part of an ongoing probe by the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA).

“These charges are a milestone in what has been a thorough and complex international investigation,” Andy Kelly, from the NCA’s International Corruption Unit, said.

According to NCA,”A former Nigerian minister has been charged with bribery offenses following a National Crime Agency investigation.

Diezani Alison-Madueke, aged 63, who also served as president of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), was a key figure in the Nigerian government between 2010 and 2015.

The NCA suspects she accepted bribes during her time as Minister for Petroleum Resources, in exchange for awarding multi-million pound oil and gas contracts.

She is alleged to have benefited from at least £100,000 in cash, chauffeur driven cars, flights on private jets, luxury holidays for her family, and the use of multiple London properties.

Her charges also detail financial rewards including furniture, renovation work and staff for the properties, payment of private school fees, and gifts from high-end designer shops such as Cartier jewellery and Louis Vuitton goods.

Madueke, who currently lives in St John’s Wood, London, will appear at Westminster Magistrates Court on 2 October.

Andy Kelly, Head of the NCA’s International Corruption Unit (ICU), said: “We suspect Diezani Alison-Madueke abused her power in Nigeria and accepted financial rewards for awarding multi-million pound contracts.

“These charges are a milestone in what has been a thorough and complex international investigation.

“Bribery is a pervasive form of corruption, which enables serious criminality and can have devastating consequences for developing countries. We will continue to work with partners here and overseas to tackle the threat.”

Assets worth millions of pounds relating to the alleged offences have already been frozen as part of the ongoing investigation.

In March this year, the NCA also provided evidence to the US Department of Justice that enabled them to recover assets totalling USD$53.1m linked to Diezani Alison-Madueke’s alleged corruption.

ICU officers have also worked closely with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission of Nigeria during the investigation, as well as the with the NCA-hosted International Anti-Corruption Coordination Centre.

The IACCC brings together specialist anti-corruption investigators from agencies around the world to tackle allegations of corruption involving politically exposed people. It is currently working in 37 different jurisdictions.

Andrew Penhale, Chief Crown Prosecutor for the CPS, said: “The Crown Prosecution Service has authorised the NCA to charge Diezani Alison-Madueke with bribery offences.

“The CPS made the decision to authorise the charge after reviewing a file of evidence from the NCA relating to allegations of bribery in Nigeria.

“Criminal proceedings against Ms Alison-Madueke are active and she has the right to a fair trial.

“It is extremely important that there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information which could in any way prejudice these proceedings.

“The function of the CPS is not to decide whether a person is guilty of a criminal offence, but to make fair, independent and objective assessments about whether it is appropriate to present charges for a criminal court to consider.”

The US Department of Justice has been able to recover assets totalling $53.1m linked to Ms Alison-Madueke’s alleged corruption thanks to evidence provided by the NCA in March, the agency says.

The NCA added that its agents had also worked closely with Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Last year, the EFCC said about $153m and more than 80 properties had been recovered from the politician, who was in the cabinet from 2007.

She first held the post of transport minister, then moved to the ministry of mines before taking over the oil portfolio.

Ms Alison-Madueke, who currently lives in London’s St John’s Wood suburb, will appear at Westminster Magistrates Court on 2 October, the NCA says.

Nigeria is one of the world’s largest oil producers, but few of its more than 225 million inhabitants have benefited from this wealth.

It is one of the 13 members of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec), set up to deal with the worldwide supply of oil and its price.

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