- Category: Latest
- Published on Saturday, 30 June 2012 00:20
- Written by Thisday
Former Governor of Bayelsa State, Mr. Diepreye Alamieyeseigha
[THISDAY] United States on Thursday executed an asset forfeiture order on $401,931 linked to former Governor of Bayelsa State, Mr. Diepreye Alamieyeseigha.
This was sequel to a motion granted by US District Court Judge, Rya Zobel on June 13, for a default judgment and forfeiture order filed by the Criminal Division’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section.
The executed order, which is the first forfeiture judgment obtained under the Justice Department’s Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative, allows the US to dispose of the forfeited funds in accordance with the country's law.
Announcing this on Thursday, the Justice Department said the funds forfeited were held in an investment account in Boston traceable to an undisclosed Alamieyeseigha account in Florida.
The investment account in Boston was said to have been fraudulently opened in the name of one Nicholas Aiyegbemi.
During his prosecution by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) after he was sacked from office, the former governor had pleaded guilty for his failure to disclose the Florida bank account and to money laundering violations.
A forfeiture complaint had alleged that Alamieyeseigha, who served as governor of Bayelsa State between 1999 and 2005 when he was impeached, was placed on a salary of approximately $81,000 for the entire period, while his declared income for the same period was about $248,000.
Within that same time frame, he was alleged to have accumulated property worth millions of dollars around the world through corruption and other illegal activities.
The Justice Department, in a separate pending civil forfeiture case filed in the District of Maryland, is also seeking forfeiture of additional property linked to the ex-governor.
The property, alleged to be a product of money laundering, is a private residence said to worth more than $600,000 in Rockville, Maryland.
Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, while noting that with a declared income of less than $250,000, Alamieyeseigha accumulated property worth millions of dollars over a six-year period, said the execution of the forfeiture order, "sends a powerful message about the United States’ commitment to rooting out corruption far and wide."
Breuer added that with Thursday's action by the department, "foreign corrupt officials are on notice that we will not permit them to stash their corruption proceeds on American soil.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director, John Morton, said the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Asset Identification & Removal Group (AIRG) would continue to work with the Department of Justice to aggressively seek to recover illicit proceeds gained through foreign corruption and protect the US financial system from being utilized by criminals.
Following Alamieyeseigha's conviction for corruption in Nigeria on July 26, 2007, the HSI’s AIRG in Baltimore initiated investigation in a bid to recover his assets in the US.
Alamieyeseigha's ordeal began in the last quarter of 2005 when he was arrested in London by the Metropolitan Police on suspicion of money laundering after about £1million cash was found in his London home. He later jumped bail and fled to Nigeria, where he pleaded guilty to corruption charges two years later.