If one has had the opportunity to converse with staunch supporters of Abubakar Atiku and Muhammadu Buhari, one unanimous lexeme in the conversations is indubitably ‘corruption’. An average supporter of President Buhari will try to convince you to support Buhari because Atiku is corrupt and Buhari is not while Atiku’s supporters will tell you that their principal is not corrupt because he has not been charged to court for any case of corruption.
There have also been various reports that the PDP Presidential candidate cannot visit the United States because he has a corruption case to answer. This was implied by the former President, Olusegun Obasanjo but a news report published on THE PUNCH denied the allegation that Atiku Abubakar has a pending lawsuit in the USA
Having aggregate different opinions and facts on the rumoured corruption allegation on former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, TalkGlitz carried out a captious investigation into the Atiku Abubakar’s corruption allegation charges. References were prominently based on the report on the USA Senate Committee on Homeland and Governmental Affairs website.
The report, dated February 4, 2010, is culled from a report by the United States Senate PERMANENT SUBCOMMITTEE ON INVESTIGATIONS Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. The report tittled “Keeping Foreign Corruption Out Of The United States: Four Case Histories” cited the former vice President’s case as one which has to do with using offshore companies to bring suspect funds into the United States.
Jennifer Douglas Abubakar, a U.S. citizen and the fourth wife of Atiku Abubakar, allegedly played a prominent role in the money laundering scandal. It was reported that from 2000 to 2008, Ms. Douglas helped her husband bring over $40 million in suspect funds into the United States, including at least $1.7 million in bribe payments from Siemens AG, a German corporation, and over $38 million from little known offshore corporations, primarily LetsGo Ltd. Inc., Guernsey Trust Company Nigeria Ltd., and Sima Holding Ltd.
It was stated in the report that over half of the suspect funds, nearly $25 million, were wire transferred by the offshore corporations into U.S. bank accounts opened by Ms. Douglas. For most of the time period examined, the U.S. banks with those accounts were unaware of Ms. Douglas’ PEP status, and allowed multiple large wire transfers into her accounts from the offshore corporations. As, over time, each of the banks began to question the wire transfers into her accounts, Ms. Douglas indicated that all of the funds came from her husband and professed little familiarity with the offshore corporations actually sending her money.
Bank records indicate that Ms. Douglas used most of the funds placed into her accounts to support a lavish lifestyle in the United States, paying credit card bills and household expenses in the range of $10,000 to $90,000 per month, including substantial legal and accounting bills.
She also transferred funds to accounts she opened for the Gede Foundation, a nonprofit corporation she established in 2002, and the American University of Nigeria (AUN), a university that Mr. Abubakar founded in 2003, and whose name reflects its association with American University in the United States.
“An additional $14 million of the suspect funds were wire transferred by two of the offshore corporations, LetsGo and the Guernsey Trust Company, to American University to pay for consulting fees related to AUN. American University officials told the Subcommittee that they understood the funds came from Mr. Abubakar and never inquired why the wire transfers were sent by unfamiliar offshore corporations.
At least another $2.1 million was wire transferred by the Guernsey Trust Corporation to accounts controlled by Edward Weidenfeld, a U.S. lawyer who provided legal services to Ms. Douglas, Mr. Abubakar, and AUN. Mr. Weidenfeld explained that the funds paid for the Abubakars’ legal expenses and an account set up for AUN, and that he had assumed the funds came from Mr. Abubakar”.
“Over the years, questions have been raised about the source of Mr. Abubakar’s wealth. He spent twenty years in the Nigerian Customs Service, and then worked in the private sector for ten years, before serving as Vice President of Nigeria from 1999 to 2007. While Vice President, Mr. Abubakar was the subject of corruption allegations relating to the Nigerian Petroleu Technology Development Fund. In December 2008, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission alleged in a formal complaint against Siemens AG, a German company, that, among other actions, in 2001 and 2002, Siemens wire transferred $2.8 million in bribe payments to a U.S. bank account belonging to Ms. Douglas as part of a scheme to bribe Nigerian officials”.
In response to this and other legal actions, Siemens admitted to engaging in widespread bribery 174 payments, pled guilty to criminal violations and settled civil violations of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and agreed to pay over $1.6 billion in civil and criminal fines. Ms. Douglas has denied any wrongdoing, but the Subcommittee has obtained financial records showing the transfer of over $1.7 million from Siemens AG to Ms. Douglas’ account at Citibank.
“Mr. Abubakar has attributed his substantial wealth to fortunate investments. His wealth is attributable in part to a 16% ownership interest he held in Integrated Logistics Services Inc (Intels), an oil services company formed in the 1980s, which has now become one of the largest
Nigerian companies in the oil industry in Africa. When Mr. Abubakar took office in 1999, he placed his Intels shares in a blind trust. Instead of selecting an independent trustee from a financial firm, however, Mr. Abubakar appointed as trustee of the blind trust Orlean Invest Holding Ltd.(Orlean), a Panamanian corporation that is active in the oil industry in Africa, is closely associated with Intels, and is owned in part by Gabriele Volpi, Mr. Abubakar’s trusted friend and business partner. Orlean served as trustee of the Abubakar Blind Trust from 1999 to 2003, when the trustees exchanged the Intels shares for shares in Orlean, thereby making the trust part owner of its own trustee. Orlean then resigned from the Abubakar Blind Trust and was replaced by Guernsey Trust Company Nigeria Ltd., a Nigerian shell company that was formed the day before the appointment. Mr. Volpi is one of three trustees of the Guernsey Trust Company whose sole activity is managing the Abubakar Blind Trust”.
From 2003 to 2008, the Guernsey Trust Company wire transferred over $10 million into the United States, including about $7 million into Douglas and AUN accounts; $2.1 million into the Weidenfeld law firm and AUN accounts; and $900,000 into American University accounts.
Two other offshore corporations, LetsGo Ltd. and Sima Holdings Ltd., both of which are private corporations beneficially owned by Mr. Volpi and his family members, wire transferred nearly $27 million into the United States, including about $8 million into Ms. Douglas’ accounts; $5.5 million into AUN accounts; and $13.1 million into American University accounts. Mr. Volpi told the Subcommittee that LetsGo and Sima Holdings sent millions of dollars to Ms. Douglas in connection with Mr. Abubakar’s ownership interest in Intels and a line of credit that LetsGo had extended to the Abubakar Blind Trust.
The report clearly seems to be a stinging indictment of Atiku Abubakar. Although linked to the bribery scandal involving the disgraced former U.S. Congressman, William Jefferson, Atiku has distanced himself from the scandal. As the 2019 elections approach, there are certainly going to be lots of unveiling stories about the revered politicians that will be fielded in the elections. Stay tuned!
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