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Another oil mogul named in Diezani’s bribery allegation, frozen UK property

 

Aiteo Chief Executive Officer, Benedict Peters, is the latest Nigerian oil mogul to be named in the case surrounding the bribery allegations against former Nigerian Oil minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke.

Three London properties linked to the alleged bribery of Mrs Alison-Madueke have been frozen under the UK Proceeds of Crime Act, at least one of which is owned by Peters.

The order, issued in September 2016 and obtained by Africa Confidential, forbids defendants Benedict Peters, Mrs. Alison-Madueke, Atlantic Energy’s Kola Aluko and Jide Omokore, Christopher Aire (a jeweller for Mrs. Alison-Madueke) and Donald Amamgbo (her cousin) from disposing of or dealing with the properties.

Alison-Madueke, Aluko and Omokore were named in the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DoJ) asset forfeiture, which stated that the same London properties totaling more than £10m were bought for the oil minister in order to secure lucrative Strategic Alliance Agreements (SAAs), which saw prized Nigerian oil assets passed to the minister’s cronies for pittance.

Mr. Peters’ company Aiteo has been linked to the 2015 INEC bribery scheme that saw Mrs. Alison-Madueke’s son, Ugonna Madueke, distribute $115million to INEC officials via Fidelity Bank in 2015.

But the inclusion of Peters as a defendant in the London case, which relates to an attempt to influence the former minister’s contracting decisions, suggests that international investigations could be more wide ranging than was previously known.

Peters’ company, Aiteo, did not directly benefit from the SAAs, but it flourished under Mrs. Alison-Madueke’s oil ministry. As well as term contracts from the NNPC, Aiteo benefitted from the oil swaps, and bought Shell’s prize asset, OML 29. With Peters now in the frame, these deals could face the same scrutiny from international law enforcement as the notorious Atlantic SAAs.

Peters has admitted to being the owner of the Seychellois company, Rosewood Investments Limited, who until now has been known as “co-conspirator #2” in the DOJ’s case. Rosewood Investments bought the £2.8m luxury flat in Harley House, London, in March 2011, with the help of London-based estate agent Daniel Ford.

He later bought luxury furnishings for the flat from Mrs. Alison-Madueke’s favourite Houston store, according to the US documents. The DoJ affidavit says over the course of two days in May 2011, Mr. Peters bought over $107,000 of furniture – including a sideboard worth more than $10,000 – that was later shipped to the UK and installed at Harley House.

Benedict Peters bought this £2.8m luxury flat in Harley House, London, in March 2011, with the help of London-based estate agent Daniel Ford. The property is now frozen.

Peters could not be reached to comment for this story. All his known telephone lines were switched off the multiple times PREMIUM TIMES called in three days. He is yet to respond to an email inquiry sent to him.

An official of his Sigmund Group, who was contacted by telephone, said he could not speak for Peters, and would not provide his latest contact details.

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