Aranda Overseas Corp, a company belonging to Seyi Tinubu, purchased a London mansion which the Nigerian government had tried to seize as property bought with the proceeds of crime, Bloomberg has reported.
Seyi, who is the son of the President-elect, Bola Tinubu, bought the property for £9 million ($10.8 million) through the company in which he has majority shares in 2017, according to the report.
The property previously belonged to Mr Kolawole Akanni Aluko whom the Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari has accused of billions of naira worth of fraud and of buying the mansion with embezzled funds.
“At the time of the purchase, Nigeria’s government was seeking to arrest the house’s former owner, accusing him of going on the run while owing the country an oil-trading debt worth more than $1.5 billion,” Bloomberg reported.
“The state was also attempting to confiscate the upscale real estate and other assets it suspected had been acquired by the businessman — Kolawole Aluko — with the profits of crime.”
Bloomberg, which based its report on previously unreported company documents, however, said there was no suggestion that President-elect Tinubu was involved in the acquisition of the property.
Both Tinubu’s spokesman and Seyi did not respond to enquiries — phone calls and text messages — by Bloomberg.
Efforts by Channels Television to reach Seyi for comments were unsuccessful, while Tinubu’s spokesman, Tunde Rahman, did not respond to calls, texts and WhatsApp messages.
The Bloomberg report has since been widely shared online, becoming a trending topic on social media.
Aluko, on his part, denied all allegations against him, saying a judgement by a Federal High Court in February this year cleared his name of the $1.6 billion fraud allegation.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) which is prosecuting the case is appealing the judgement.
Bloomberg also said a British lawyer listed as Aranda Overseas Corp’s agent in the UK declined to comment based on “confidentiality rules”.
A Premium Times report cited by Bloomberg disclosed that Buhari visited the 7,000-square foot London home in August 2021 while Tinubu was staying there.
Explaining how the mansion was acquired by Seyi, Bloomberg said corporate documents it saw “show for the first time that Tinubu’s 37-year-old son Oluwaseyi is the main shareholder of Aranda Overseas Corp., an offshore company that paid £9 million ($10.8 million) to Deutsche Bank for the property in north London in late 2017.
“The private three-floor residence in St. John’s Wood — a district favored by American bankers — is equipped with an eight-car driveway, two gardens, electric gates and a gym.”
The documents seen by Bloomberg were filed this year in response to new anti-money laundering rules in the UK.
The publication said the documents “show that Tinubu’s son — an entrepreneur active in advertising who played a prominent role in his father’s presidential campaign — has been in control of British Virgin Islands-registered Aranda since June 2011”.
The company registered as an overseas entity in the UK on January 20.
On July 4, 2016 — one year after Buhari took office on an anti-corruption mandate — EFCC charged Mr Jide Omokore and two of his firms, Atlantic Energy Brass Development Ltd and Atlantic Energy Drilling Concepts Ltd, for alleged fraud and money laundering allegations to the tune of $1.6 billion.
With his co-defendants, including Victor Briggs, Abiye Membere, and David Mbanefo, the oil magnate was charged on 15 counts.
Though former Minister of Petroleum Resources Diezani Alison-Madueke and Kolawole Akanni Aluko had been charged alongside Omokore, both were not included on the defendants list.
According to EFCC, Omokore obtained barrels of crude oil from the Federal Government after he made false presentations to the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
It alleged that, using his two companies, Omokore induced top officials of both the NPDC and the NNPC to enter into a Strategic Alliance Agreement (SAA) with the Federal Government for the operation of four rich oil Wells.
According to the EFCC, contrary to Omokore’s supposedly false representation that he had the technical competence, professional skills and funds to support the petroleum operations of the NPDC in relation to the oil wells, he, however, in connivance with the other defendants, siphoned crude oil and sold same to third-parties.
It told the court that one of the persons involved in the alleged crude oil fraud, Kolawole Akanni Aluko, was at large, adding that the charged officials collected kickbacks in the form of gifts of exotic cars from Omokore.
The prosecution closed its case on December 15, 2022, after having called a total of 17 witnesses that testified before the court.
On their part, the defendants presented four witnesses to establish their innocence.
While all the defendants pleaded not guilty to the charge, Omokore admitted that he gave car gifts to the 4th and 5th defendants, but argued that they were a goodwill gesture he made in celebration of his 50th birthday celebration, not kickbacks.
Delivering his judgement on the matter, Justice Dimgba held that the EFCC failed to, by way of credible evidence, establish elements of crime contained in the 15-count charge it preferred against the defendants.
On February 7, 2023, the Federal High Court Abuja discharged and acquitted Omokore of the fraud allegations.
Culled from Channels Television