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Financial Crimes
06/28/2012

DOJ/HSI forfeits more than $400,000 in corruption proceeds linked to former Nigerian governor

BALTIMORE, Md. — The Department of Justice and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) has forfeited $401,931 in assets traceable to Diepreye Solomon Peter Alamieyeseigha, a former Governor of Bayelsa State, Nigeria.

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 including Maryland, 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, He 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, 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 Lanny A. 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 Asset Identification and Removal Group 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 John 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."

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 investigated by ICE's HSI AIRG in Baltimore.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant Deputy Chief Daniel H. Claman and Trial Attorney Tracy Mann of the Justice Department's Criminal Division Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section. Additional assistance was provided by the Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Murrane of the District of Massachusetts.

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 kleptocracy@usdoj.gov.