Real reasons PDP flagbearer in Saturday’s primaries held in Rivers State Atiku Abubakar is allegedly avoiding traveling to the United States since he lost immunity as Nigerian VP may not be unconnected to a US Senate report detailing how the ex-VP exploited US weak anti-money-laundering controls to wire $40m suspect funds by proxy into the US between 2000 and 2008 while serving as Nigerian Vice President .
In a 328-page report obtained by Concise News on Tuesday, Atiku has myriads of questions marks on his head bordering on corruption, bribery and smuggling of $40m suspect funds into the US based on findings from investigations carried out by US Senate Permanent Subcommittee On Investigations.
The report titled ‘KEEPING FOREIGN CORRUPTION OUT OF THE UNITED STATES: FOUR CASE HISTORIES’ and submitted to US Senate on February 4, 2010 dedicated pages 173 -242 (69 pages) to detailing Atiku Abubakar’s shady deals in the US, one of the four case studies in the report.
See full report below:
Other cases or smuggling suspect funds into the US contained in the report involved those of:
i. Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, the 40-year-old son of Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mbasogo, ex-President of Equatorial Guinea.
ii. El Hadj Omar Bongo Ondimba, the President of Gabon for 41 years until his death in June 200.
iii. Angolan arms dealer, government official, and an Angolan private bank.
In Atiku’s case study titled: ABUBAKAR CASE STUDY: USING OFFSHORE COMPANIES TO BRING SUSPECT FUNDS INTO THE UNITED STATES, the US senate subcommittee submitted that:
Jennifer Douglas Abubakar, a U.S. citizen and fourth wife of Atiku Abubakar, helped her husband bring over $40 million in suspect funds into the United States between 2000 and 2008, 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.
Suspicious Offshore Wire Transactions
“Over half of the suspect funds, nearly $25 million, were wired 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,” findings by the US Senate subcommittee reveals.
“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.
NPTDF, Siemens Corruption Allegations
The US Senate subcommittee report also fingered Atiku in Nigeria Petroleum Technology Development Fund and Siemens bribe scandals.
“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 Petroleum Technology Development Fund.”
Of special interest, however, is the alleged $2.8m bribe Atiku received from Siemens to facilitate award of contract to the company’s subsidiary in Nigeria 2001/2002. Atiku allegedly received the bribe by Siemens into his wife, Douglas’, account in the US.
“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 payments, plead 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,” stated the committee report in paragraph 5 of page 174.
Intels, Blind Trust, Orlean Holdings & Gabriele Volpi Shady Deals
“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,” continues the indicting report by the US senate subcommittee.
From 2003 to 2008, the Guernsey Trust Company reportedly wired 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, wired 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 US Senate 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.