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Nigerian and US Authorities battle former Enron Nigerian Subsidiary over $80 million Yacht

 

ECONOMY & POLITICS

Nigerian and US Authorities battle former Enron Nigerian Subsidiary over $80 million Yacht

Both Nigerian and American governments have opposed Enron Nigeria’s appeal.

Almost two decades after the collapse of Enron Corp., a former unit of the energy-trading giant is sparring with U.S. and Nigerian authorities over the proceeds of the sale of a luxury yacht.

The dispute pivots on the Galactica Star — a 213-foot vessel once worth more than $80 million. The boat features a glass-bottom jacuzzi, a sky lounge bar and marble bathroom fittings.

U.S. authorities seized the Galactica in 2018 after filing a lawsuit to recover assets it said were acquired by Nigerian businessman Kolawole Aluko. Prosecutors alleged in a forfeiture complaint that Aluko bought the yacht with the spoils of bribes paid to Diezani Alison-Madueke — the first female president of OPEC and a former Nigerian oil minister.

19 years after the bankruptcy of Enron Corporation, one of the biggest corporate bankruptcies in American history, a former subsidiary of the company is battling Nigerian and American Authorities over the sale of a yacht valued at over $80 million acquired by Nigerian businessman Kolawole Aluko.

The yacht was seized by the US Government in 2018 after prosecutors say it was bought with the proceeds of bribes paid to Nigeria’s former Minister of Petroleum, Diezani Alison–Madueke.

The yacht was later auctioned for $37 million in 2019. The Nigerian government also dropped claims to the proceeds of the sale recently and a Texas Court ordered all proceeds should be retained by the US Government.

However, a former unit of the Bankrupt Enron, Enron Nigeria Power Holdings claims it’s entitled to the proceeds and demands $22 million in a bid to get an arbitration awarded to them against the Nigerian government for suspending a contract signed with Enron in 1999 to build and operate a Power plant.

Enron Nigeria claims the Nigerian government dropped claims to the proceeds of the yacht’s auction in an attempt to fraudulently transfer assets to stop creditors from accessing them. Saying Nigeria dropping its claims was “a recognition of the factual and legal basis” in a DOJ court filing.

Both Nigerian and American governments have opposed Enron Nigeria’s appeal.

Enron Nigeria Power Holdings Ltd is owned by ex-Enron staff involved in the negotiations for the Power Plant contract in Nigeria and was bought out of bankruptcy for $750,000 in 2004 by a Cayman Islands registered company.

An arbitration ruling in 2012 awarded Enron Nigeria Power Holdings $11.2 million including interest in damages against the Nigerian government.

The DOJ says Mr. Aluko bought the yacht for $82 million in 2013 and funded a lavish lifestyle for Alison Madueke in exchange for NNPC contracts valued at over $1.5 billion.

Aluko and his business partner, Olajide Omokore are also accused of laundering illicit revenues into and through the United States

The Justice Department says Aluko and his business partner Olajide Omokore funded “a lavish lifestyle” for Alison-Madueke in exchange for lucrative contracts from Nigeria’s state oil company that generated more than $1.5 billion. The two “laundered their illicit revenues into and through the U.S.,” according to the complaint filed in 2017.

Tokunbo Jaiye-Agoro, Aluko’s lawyer, declined to comment on Enron Nigeria Power’s lawsuit. Jaiye-Agoro added that he can “say very little at this stage” about the contracts his client secured when Diezani-Madueke was minister because they are subject to an ongoing court case in Nigeria.

Omokore wasn’t involved in the purchase of the yacht, isn’t party to the case before the Texas court and can’t comment on it, his lawyer Rafiu Lawal-Rabana said in an emailed response to questions. He declined to comment on the Justice Department allegations.

Nigerian and US Authorities battle former Enron Nigerian Subsidiary over $80 million Yacht

 

 

 

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25 Comments

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