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05/31/2013

Maryland property purchased with Nigerian corruption proceeds forfeited through HSI investigation, DOJ kleptocracy initiative

Maryland property purchased with Nigerian corruption proceeds forfeited through HSI investigation, DOJ kleptocracy initiative
Maryland property purchased with Nigerian corruption proceeds forfeited through HSI investigation, DOJ kleptocracy initiative
BALTIMORE — A forfeiture judgment was executed Friday against real estate property with an estimated value of more than $700,000 in Rockville, Md. The property was purchased with corruption proceeds traceable to Diepreye Solomon Peter Alamieyeseigha, a former Governor of Bayelsa State, Nigeria, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Asset Identification and Removal Group in Baltimore.

"This investigation was initiated by the HSI Asset Identification and Removal Group in Baltimore, in an effort to recover the criminal proceeds from Diepreye Solomon Peter Alamieyeseigha’s assets, whose shell companies were convicted of money laundering offenses in Nigeria," said ICE Director John Morton. "The group will continue working with the Department of Justice to recover illicit proceeds gained through foreign corruption and protect the U.S. financial system from being utilized by criminals."

"Foreign officials who think they can use the United States as a stash-house are sorely mistaken," said DOJ Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman. "Through the Kleptocracy Initiative, we stand with the victims of foreign official corruption as we seek to forfeit the proceeds of corrupt leaders’ illegal activities."

Alamieyeseigha, aka DSP, served as the elected governor of oil-producing Bayelsa State from 1999 until his impeachment in 2005. As alleged in the U.S. forfeiture complaint, DSP’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. While he was governor, DSP accumulated property worth millions of dollars through corrupt and illegal activities.

The complaint alleges that DSP acquired the Rockville property during his first term as governor of Bayelsa State with funds obtained through corruption, abuse of office, money laundering and other violations of Nigerian and U.S. law. Title to the property was transferred to Solomon & Peters Ltd., a shell corporation controlled by DSP. The company, instead of DSP himself, pleaded guilty to money laundering in Nigeria in 2007.

On May 24, U.S. District Court Judge Roger W. Titus of the District of Maryland granted a motion for a default judgment and issued a final decree of forfeiture. The order extinguishes all prior title and authorizes forfeiture of the private residence located in Rockville to the United States. The residence is estimated to be worth more than $700,000. The order also allows the United States to liquidate the property in accordance with federal law. In a related action in the District of Massachusetts, DOJ and HSI successfully forfeited approximately $400,000 from an investment account traceable to DSP.

Both actions were brought under DOJ’s Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative announced by the Attorney General in 2010. Through this initiative, DOJ, along with federal law enforcement agencies, seeks to identify and forfeit the proceeds of foreign official corruption. Where possible and appropriate, the initiative returns those corruption proceeds for the benefit of the people of the nations harmed by the corruption.

Individuals with information about possible proceeds of foreign corruption in the United States, or funds laundered through institutions in the United States, should contact HSI via its toll-free tip line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or complete its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock. Individuals can also send an email to kleptocracy@usdoj.gov.