FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, June 28, 2012
Department of Justice Forfeits More Than $400,000 in Corruption Proceeds Linked to Former Nigerian Governor
WASHINGTON – The Department of Justice has forfeited $401,931 in assets traceable to Diepreye Solomon Peter Alamieyeseigha, a former Governor of Bayelsa State, Nigeria, Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton announced today.
Alamieyeseigha was the elected governor of the oil-producing Bayelsa State in Nigeria from 1999 until his impeachment in 2005. As alleged in the U.S. forfeiture complaint, Alamieyeseigha’s official salary for this entire period was approximately $81,000, and his declared income from all sources during the period was approximately $248,000. However, while governor, Alamieyeseigha accumulated millions of dollars worth of property located around the world through corruption and other illegal activities. After his impeachment in Nigeria, Alamieyeseigha pleaded guilty in Nigeria for, among other things, failure to disclose a bank account in Florida and also pleaded guilty on behalf of his shell companies to money laundering violations. As further alleged in the complaint, the funds forfeited were held in an investment account in Boston that was fraudulently opened in the name of Nicholas Aiyegbemi and were traceable to the undisclosed Alamieyeseigha account in Florida.
On June 13, 2012, U.S. District Court Judge Rya W. Zobel of the District of Massachusetts granted a motion for a default judgment and forfeiture order filed by the Criminal Division’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section. This forfeiture order was executed today and allows the United States to dispose of the forfeited funds in accordance with federal law.
“With a declared income of less than $250,000, Mr. Alamieyeseigha accumulated millions of dollars worth of property over a six-year period,” said Assistant Attorney General Breuer. “Today’s announcement – the first forfeiture judgment obtained under our Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative – sends a powerful message about the United States’ commitment to rooting out corruption far and wide. Foreign corrupt officials are on notice that we will not permit them to stash their corruption proceeds on American soil.”
“This investigation was initiated by ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Asset Identification & Removal Group (AIRG) in Baltimore, in an effort to recover Diepreye Solomon Peter Alamieyeseigha’s assets after he was convicted of money laundering offenses in Nigeria,” said ICE Director Morton. “HSI’s AIRG will continue working with the Department of Justice to aggressively seek to recover illicit proceeds gained through foreign corruption and to protect the U.S. financial system from being utilized by criminals.”
This is the first forfeiture judgment obtained under the Justice Department’s Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative. This initiative is carried out by a dedicated team of prosecutors in the Criminal Division’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section, working in partnership with federal law enforcement agencies to forfeit the proceeds of foreign official corruption and where appropriate return those proceeds to benefit those harmed.
In a separate pending civil forfeiture case filed in the District of Maryland, the Justice Department is seeking forfeiture of additional property traceable to Alamieyeseigha, a private residence worth more than $600,000 in Rockville, Md. The complaint alleges that the property was involved in money laundering.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant Deputy Chief Daniel H. Claman and Trial Attorney Tracy Mann of the Criminal Division’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section. Additional assistance was provided by the Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Murrane of the District of Massachusetts. The case was investigated by ICE’s HSI AIRG in Baltimore.
Individuals with information about possible proceeds of foreign corruption located in or laundered through institutions in the United States should contact federal law enforcement or send an email to [email protected].