More documents emanating from the Crown Court sitting in Southwark, London, have exposed more messier roles played by Aiteo Group President, Mr. Benedict Peters, in the multi-billion dollars scam linked to former minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.
Since the Diezani scam blew open, the UK Government had taken more than passing interest in the matter, doing what a responsible government would do: Investigate and prosecute.
The UK government was working on a theory that some of the stolen oil money by Diezani and her proxies, notably Mr. Benedict Peters, were used to buy up palatial mansions and other property in the lucrative UK property market which global investigators have established to be the fancy of global criminals looking for where to hedge their stolen money.
In her deposition before the Crown Court in the matter of Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (External Requests and Orders) Order 2005, Helen Hughes, a Specialist Prosecutor employed by the Central Pre-Enforcement team, the Crown Prosecution Service Proceeds of Crime, @ Southwark Bridge, London, drew a direct link between Diezani and Peters in the intercontinental money laundering case which shocked officials of government in Nigeria.
Her testimony followed a thorough investigation triggered by a request for Mutual Legal Assistance dated 17th June, 2016 from Abubakar Malami SAN, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice which was received by the Crown Prosecution Service.
The letter was received by the UK Central Authority, UKCA, on 4th July, 2016. The letter sighted by our reporter, clearly stated that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, in Abuja was conducting an investigation against Diezani Kogbeni Alison Madueke, Benedict Peters, and others for offences of bribery and laundering the Proceeds of Crime.
The agents of Diezani were beneficiaries, remotely and directly, of the massive crude oil lifting scandal that signposted her era as minister.
Findings by investigators showed a schematic pattern of money laundering using property markets in US, UK and Nigeria. A particular pattern that ran through many of the illicit acquisitions of property by Peters and other agents of Diezani was how they discretely passed the ownership of the properties from one person to another in their bid to mask Diezani as the real owners of the luxury properties.
For instance, the property at 5 Parkview, 83-86 Prince Albert Road, St Johns Wood, London NW8 7RUhas an interesting mutation in ownership, all to mask Diezani. The investigative report entry on the property reads: “Collinwood Limited registered in the British Virgin Island formally in CA name but now in BP’s name and the papers transferring ownership of the company to you has been prepared and is on the file but yet unsigned by BP. Once you give the instruction, I will have it signed.”
The same pattern of mutating ownership followed other properties. In an interview with EFCC in Nigeria, one of Diezani’s men (name withheld) explained that the initial BP was Benedict Peters.
Investigation in Nigeria revealed that “the ‘Atlantic’ companies of which Peters company is a member, fraudulently lifted crude oil worth over $1,000,000,000 (One billion USD) and diverted that money for their personal use and to pay the bribes to Diezani Alison Madueke.”
One of the allegations against Benedict Peters before the Crown Court is that “he purchased Flat 58 Harley House, Marylebone Road, London NW1 5HL in return for oil-related contracts issued by Diezani Alison Madueke. During her tenure, Diezani Alison Madueke issued the contracts to Benedict Peters company, Aiteo Energy Resources Limited. The evidence shows that he purchased Flat 58 Harley House with a Seychelles registered company, Rosewood Investment Limited, as special purpose vehicle for Diezani Alison Madueke.”