Monday, 17 July 2017

$1.7bn debt: Banks get court nod to seize assets of Diezani’s associates


A federal high court in Lagos has directed 19 banks to seize assets belonging to businessmen Olajide Omokore and Kolawole Aluko until it decides the fate of a suit seeking the recovery of the $1.7 billion owed to the federal government.

Both men are associates of Diezani Alison-Madueke, former minister of petroleum.

Omokore, Aluko and their oil firms allegedly owe the federal government $1, 762, 338, 284.40 for crude oil lifted under the strategic alliance agreements (SAA).



In 2016, the federal government alongside the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company Limited (NPDC) and Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) had sued Atlantic Energy Drilling Concepts Nigeria Limited, Atlantic Energy Brass Development Limited and two of its directors, Omokore and Aluko.

They had urged the court to restrain the defendants and their agents from giving instructions, demanding and receiving payment from 19 commercial banks in Nigeria, eight offshore banks, and eight other companies listed before the court.

In an affidavit sworn to by Oginni Isaac Kehinde, of the federal ministry of justice and filed before Oluremi Oguntoyinbo; Oladipo Okpeseyi (SAN), said Omokore, Aluko and their two companies are indebted to the government.

Apart from a pending application filed by the co-defendants seeking a stay of proceeding on the suit which they had filed an appeal against, there is another application by Virtual Properties and Investment Limited as an intervener.

It is urging the court to discharge or vary its order, as it relates to Marion apartments, on the grounds that the property located at Block 8 Plots 4 and 5 Onikoyi Estate, Banana Island, Ikoyi, consists of 56 apartments owned and developed by the intervener by virtue of two separate deeds of sublease the intervener conveyed its interest in 43 out of the 56 apartments to Realblanc Energy Engineering Limited, an affiliate company of the defendants.

The intervener says it still retains ownership of 13 out of the 56 apartments in Marion Apartments; therefore the order of the court is unfair to its interest and interferes with its right of ownership over the flats.

THE ‘CONTRACT’

In the notice filed on Friday by the US department of justice to recover $144 million assets from Alison-Madueke, prosecutors said Omokore and Aluko spent money on luxury items in the UK and US for her in a bid to curry favour and secure contracts.

The notice said between August 2011 and January 2014, Aluko and his company Tracon investments Ltd made £537,922 in rental payments for two central London residences both located at 22 St. Edmunds for Diezani and her mother.

The document said the favours influenced her award of Forcados SAAs to Aluko’s Atlantic Energy Drilling Concepts (AEDC).

$1.7 BILLION DEBT

Ogini, prosecuting counsel, said the defendants by virtue of the SAT agreement were granted license to lift crude oil and other associated products in Nigeria for sale and for parties to share the profits in agreed terms.

“The defendants indeed lifted and sold the crude oil and have been paid, but bluntly and deliberately refused to pay the federal government rather, they unlawfully diverted and converted the profits share due in the sum of $1,762, 338, 184.40 to their private use.”

Ogini accused Aluko of taking residence outside the country to facilitate the diversion of the proceeds of the crude oil lifted.

“Several vehicles with combined value of over N800 million were purchased by the defendants and donated to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) through Prince Secondus, its national chairman.

“Additional vehicles valued at over N130million were purchased by the defendants and distributed to Diezani Alison-Madueke, former minister of petroleum and some other managerial staff of NPDC.”

ASSETS ALLEGDLY PROCURED

Ogini said the sums of $18.5 million, and N1 million were paid to FBN Mortgages Limited by Aluko as part payment for Block A, consisting of 26 Flats at 46 Gerrard road, Ikoyi, Lagos purchased at a total cost of N5.2 billion.

The sums of $25.8 million and N95 million were made to Real bank for part financing the acquisition of AEDC and AEBD properties and renovation of some properties.

Some of the properties were identified as: Mason apartments situated at 6, Gerrard Road, Ikoyi Lagos comprising 60 units of 3 bedrooms apartment, valued at $78 million; Marion apartments, Block 8, located at 4 and 5, Onikoyi Estate, Banana Island, Ikoyi, Lagos consisting of 43 units of apartments, valued at $76.1 million; the renovation of apartments block at 33A Cooper Road Ikoyi, Lagos, at a total cost of $4.9 million; and the renovation of the Admiralty Towers at 8, Gerrard Road Ikoyi, Lagos.

He also stated that the defendants made additional funds transfers among others, up to $69.9 million to several companies namely: Mia Hotels Limited, First Motors Limited; V.I. Petrochemicals, Evergreen Reality & Management, WIz Trade limited, DE First Union Integrated Services and Amity Plus limited.

The venture which includes physical assets, cash in the bank and shares as at 2014 are as follows: Grove End Road, London; 755 Sarbone Road, Los Angeles; 952 North Alpine drive Los Angeles; 815Cima Del Mundo, Los Angeles; 807 Coma Del Mundo (Land); 1049 Fifth Avenue, New York; 1948 & 1952 Tolls Avenue, Santa Baraba; 157 West 57th St, New York 4100 Let Revenge, Dubai.

Others include; residences in Nigeria; Avenue Towers, Lagos, Nigeria; land in Mont Tremblat, Canada; Colina D’oro Montagnola, Switzerland, while cash in bank accounts are as follows: LDT Switzerland -$25milion; Corner Bank, Lugano, Switzerland -$1 million; Deutsche Bank, Geneva -$40million; HSBC London $175,000.

Alleged investments in shares are: 75 percent shareholding in AEDC and AEBD; 10 percent shareholding in Seven Energy.

Other assets include: a yacht called Galactica Star; 20 Year Berth Lease -Barcelona; watch Collection; Car Collections (58 Vehicles); Aeroplane-Global Express S5-GMG; Aeroplane-Bombardier Global 6000 9H-OPE; Aeroplane Bombardier.

The prosecuting counsel urged the court to issue a worldwide Mareva Order, restraining the defendants from dissipating all known assets directly or indirectly by the defendants, including but not limited to assets listed on the motion paper.

Oguntoyinbo, the presiding judge, issued an order restraining the defendants and their agents from dealing in any manner the assets in banks, houses, land and shares in Nigeria and others located outside Nigeria.

The Nigerian banks listed in the motion papers were ordered to within seven days seize all money and negotiable instruments standing to the credit of the defendants in the sum of $1,7 billion, and keep same in an interest yielding account in the name of the chief registrar of the court as trustee of same, pending the determination of the motion on notice.

The court also ordered that the ruling should be served on the affected parties through advertisement in newspapers circulating within and outside the country.

The case was adjourned till September 29, 2017, for the court to decide whether to stay proceeding or not in the suit filed by the government and two of its agencies against Atlantic Energy Drilling Concepts Nigeria Limited (AEDC) and Atlantic Energy Brass Development Limited (AEBD), in order to recover the money.


( The Cable )

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