The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is to enlist the services of foreign assistants to trace the foreign accounts and properties of some former governors, ex-ministers, businessmen and a few heads of parastatals who have been under discreet probe.
Some of the ex-ministers and governors had either been questioned by the EFCC or put on trial in connection with the rot in the oil sector and the N23.29billion poll bribery scam.
Also, the agency is still tracking some foreign accounts and assets of some suspects implicated in the $2.1b arms deals.
The affected assets are suspected to be located in the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States, Switzerland, Russia, South Africa, France and Mali.
It was learnt that the anti-graft commission has been making clues available to some of these countries.
A few of the houses under investigation in the UK and in the United States include those at 93b Shirehall Park, London, NW42QU; 50 Tenterden Grove, NW41TH; at 22 Parkwood, St. Edmunds Terrace, St John’s Wood, London, NW8 7QQ; 67, Wades Hill, Winchmore Hill, London, N21 1AU; 27 Tavistock Square, Holburn, London, WC1H 9HH ; 1220 West Highway, Silver Spring, Maryland(Zip Code of 20910); 11711 Scooter Lane, Fairfax, VA 22030; 4227 Summit Manor Ct, Fairfax, VA 22033; and in Maryland at13116 Silver Maple Ct, Bowie, MD 20715;
Others include $8.6 million duplex on Fifth Avenue in New York; Catonale 17, 6948 Porza in Tocina(Geneva, Switzerland); 775 Sarbonne Road, Los Angeles; 952 North Alphine Drive, Los Angeles; 815 Cima Del Mundo, Los Angeles, 1049 Fifth Avenue, New York, 1948 & 1952 Tollis Avenue, Santa Barbara; 157 West 57th Street, New York, 4100 Le Reve, Dubai ; and Grove End Road, London and Colina D’oro, Montagnola, Switzerland.
A top source in the commission said: “We have been able to identify about 25 choice mansions but we are still tracking more foreign accounts and assets of some of the suspects involved in the $2.1billion arms deals and the N23.29billion poll bribery scam.
“Some of these suspects actually stashed their looted funds abroad, including the UK, UAE, US, Switzerland, Russia, South Africa, France, and Mali. We will locate all these accounts in other jurisdictions.
“Some of the accounts were slush types which were operated through some fronts, especially companies. A few of the mansions were bought in corporate names to shield the identities of the owners.”
Responding to a question, the source added: “We have been trying to trace the assets of some ex-governors, ex-ministers and a few heads of agencies in some of these countries. In fact, we have written to some foreign jurisdictions on some former governors. Some of these assets are located in Marina in Dubai and others in Abu Dhabi.
“There is the case of a former minister who is under investigation with a choice property in the United Kingdom. We are looking at the possibility of seeking assistance to seize the asset.
“But the process of confiscating such assets is cumbersome because in some of these countries, their laws are very strict. You have to provide sufficient evidence before the court. But we are up to the task.
“So far, we are enjoying the cooperation of relevant agencies in other jurisdictions to track these illicit accounts and ill-gotten assets. By the time the trial of the ex-Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke begins, you will see how far we have gone on her case. The process is tedious but it is worth it.”
In the past few years, politically exposed persons in the country and their cronies have stashed looted funds in the UK, US, UAE, Switzerland, France, Seychelles, and Island of Jersey.
Some of the looted funds include $723 million (about N142.43 billion) repatriated from Switzerland in the last 10 years; $200b allegedly stashed in UAE; $480m to be released to FG by US; £22.5 million (N6.18billion) recovered from Island of Jersey; and about £400b in Europe, Asia and America. The Swiss government in March confirmed that it had so far returned $723 million (about N142.43 billion) of stolen funds seized from the family of the late former head of state, Sani Abacha, to the Nigerian government in the last 10 years. The amount excluded the $321million (about N63.24 billion) which the Swiss authorities recently said it was planning to repatriate to Nigeria.
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign and Domestic Debts, Senator Shehu Sani, said over $200 billion had been hidden in the UAE.
He said: “Over $200 billion are stashed away from Nigeria to Dubai alone. This may the monies stolen since in the past 20 years. I am not talking about estates and bonds and other securities bought with Nigeria stolen money.”