A Federal High Court in Lagos on Wednesday ordered that a $37.5 million property owned by former oil minister Diezani Alison-Madueke be seized as she faces charges of corruption and money laundering.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) counsel, Anselem Ozioko told the court that the financial crimes agency suspected the property was acquired with the proceeds of alleged illegal activities.
The U.S. Justice Department filed a civil complaint last Friday aimed at recovering about $144 million in assets allegedly obtained through bribes to Alison-Madueke, petroleum minister from 2010 to 2015 under the presidency of Goodluck Jonathan.
Ozioko said the EFCC’s investigation revealed that the former minister made the $37.5m payment for the property in cash, adding that the money was moved straight from her house in Abuja and paid into the seller’s account in Abuja.
Ozioko said: “Nothing could be more suspicious than someone keeping such huge amounts in her apartment. Why was she doing that? To avoid attention.
“We are convinced beyond reasonable doubt because as of the time this happened, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke was still in public service as the Minister of Petroleum Resources.”
Alison-Madueke’s whereabouts are unclear, but she was last known to be in Britain.
In April, she was charged in absentia with money laundering by Nigeria’s financial crimes agency.
She had previously denied any wrongdoing when questioned about corruption allegations.
On Wednesday the Federal High Court in the commercial capital Lagos issued the order over Alison-Madueke’s property in Banana Island district which she bought in 2013.
It also ordered a temporary freeze on sums of $2.74 million and 84.54 million naira ($269,000) that were said to be part of the rent collected on the property.
The temporary seizure orders were made following an application to the court by EFCC.