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12 Years After, Atiku Lands In US, Plus the reasons for the delay


News » Politics
Nigeria

Jan.18.2019

Former vice president and presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, yesterday arrived in Washington DC, United States of America, on a two-day visit.

Senator Ben Murray Bruce, U.S Congressman Chris Smith, Nigeria Presidential Candidate Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and President of the Nigerian Senate Dr. Bukola Saraki
PHOTO L-R: Senator Ben Murray Bruce, U.S Congressman Chris Smith, Nigeria Presidential Candidate Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and President of the Nigerian Senate Dr. Bukola Saraki

This is coming 12 years after his last visit to the country.

The PDP presidential candidate arrived in the North American country at 20.20 hours (14.20 hours Washington DC time).

Atiku had on Wednesday met with the business community in Lagos at an interactive session to unveil his plans to ‘get Nigeria working again’.

A statement by his media adviser, Paul Ibe, last night said he thereafter left Abuja yesterday accompanied by the director-general of the PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation and President of the Senate, Senator Bukola Saraki for the  United States.

“Atiku Abubakar will in the course of his trip hold meeting with US government officials, the business community and the Nigerian community,” he added.Others in the entourage include a former minister of aviation, Osita Chidoka, Senator Ben Bruce, party strategists and personal aides of both Atiku and Saraki.

Sources say that Atiku will return to Nigeria tomorrow to participate in a television debate for some presidential candidates in Abuja organised by Nigeria Election Debate Group (NEDG).

Earlier in the day, sources told our reporter that Atiku would be speaking at a forum by the American Chamber of Commerce in Washington D.C. and will attend other meetings aimed at boosting his electoral chance. Our reporter also obtained the bromide of an official tag meant for Atiku for the Chamber of Commerce function. The PDP presidential candidate’s eventual visit to the US may unsettle the governing All Progressives Congress (APC), which had earlier challenged him to visit America where it is speculated that he has corruption charges to answer. Before now, Atiku had not visited the US since 2007 when he left office as Nigeria’s vice president under former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

 

THE OTHER STORY

For  more than 13 years, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has not travelled to the United States. Once, the US even turned down his request for a visa. But on Thursday, he landed in Washington DC for talks with some American officials on his campaign in Nigeria.

His visit, said to have been facilitated by his former boss, President Olusegun Obasanjo and other lobbyists, threw up questions as to why he had avoided America in the first place.

What is known is that nine  years ago, there was a US Senate Committee report detailing money laundering activities against him, including being a recipient of a bribe by Siemens.

The Committee known as the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations was chaired by Senator Carl Levin. Abubakar was not the only foreign Politically Exposed Person(PEP) probed by the committee. He had company in Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, now the 48-year-old son of Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mbasogo, the President of Equatorial Guinea (EG), late President of Gabon, Omar Bongo and three Angolan PEP accounts, involving an Angolan arms dealer, an Angolan government official, and a small Angolan private bank.

The committee submitted its report on 4 February 2010, three years after Abubakar left office as Nigeria’s vice president. The report  unveiled violations of US laws by Abubakar and his fourth wife, Jennifer Douglas. It also  included revelations about Siemens bribe paid into one of the accounts, and it possibly  provided the basis for Abubakar being barred from entering the United States, since then.

This  Report examines how politically powerful foreign officials, their relatives, and close associates – referred to in international agreements as Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs) – have used the services of U.S. professionals and financial institutions to bring large amounts of suspect funds into the United States to advance their interests. Using four case histories, this Report shows how some PEPs have used U.S. lawyers, real estate and escrow agents, lobbyists, bankers, and even university officials, to circumvent U.S. anti-money laundering and anti- corruption safeguards.

This Report also offers recommendations to stop the abuses.

Here is a summary of the report: 

Title: Abubakar Case History.

From 2000 to 2008, Jennifer Douglas, a U.S. citizen and the fourth wife of Atiku Abubakar, former Vice President and former candidate for President of Nigeria, helped her husband bring over $40 million in suspect funds into the United States through wire transfers sent by offshore corporations to U.S. bank accounts.

In a 2008 civil complaint, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission alleged that Ms. Douglas received over $2 million in bribe payments in 2001 and 2002, from Siemens AG, a major German corporation.

While Ms. Douglas denies wrongdoing, Siemens has already pleaded guilty to U.S. criminal charges and settled civil charges related to bribery and told the Subcommittee that it sent the payments to one of her U.S. accounts.

In 2007, Mr. Abubakar was the subject of corruption allegations in Nigeria related to the Petroleum Technology Development Fund.

Of the $40 million in suspect funds, $25 million was wire transferred by offshore corporations into more than 30 U.S. bank accounts opened by Ms. Douglas, primarily by Guernsey Trust Company Nigeria Ltd., LetsGo Ltd. Inc., and Sima Holding Ltd.

The U.S. banks maintaining those accounts were, at times, unaware of her PEP status, and they allowed multiple, large offshore wire transfers into her accounts. As each bank began to question the offshore wire transfers, Ms. Douglas indicated that all of the funds came from her husband and professed little familiarity with the offshore corporations actually sending her money.

When one bank closed her account due to the offshore wire transfers, her lawyer helped convince other banks to provide a new account. In addition, two of the offshore corporations wire transferred about $14 million over five years to American University in Washington, D.C., to pay for consulting services related to the development of a Nigerian university founded by Mr. Abubakar.

American University accepted the wire transfers without asking about the identity of the offshore corporations or the source of their funds, because under current law, the University had no legal obligation to inquire.

Furthermore:

During the course of its investigation, the Subcommittee staff conducted over 100 interviews, including interviews of lawyers, real estate agents, escrow agents, lobbyists, bankers, university professionals, and government officials. The Subcommittee issued over 50 subpoenas and reviewed millions of pages of documents, including bank records, correspondence, contracts, emails, property records, flight records, news articles, and court pleadings.

In addition, the Subcommittee consulted with foreign officials, international organisations, financial regulators, and experts in anti-money laundering and anti-corruption efforts. In addition, there was the case of Congressman William Jefferson who was jailed for accepting a bribe from a would-be Nigerian investor, Lori Mody, who was wearing a wire.

Jefferson told the investor that he would need to give then Nigerian Vice President Atiku Abubakar $500,000 “as a motivating factor” to make sure the company obtained contracts for iGate and Mody’s company in Nigeria.

The case put Atiku in bad spotlight, with his mansion in Potomac, Maryland searched by the FBI in 2005. But there was nothing incriminating found in the house.

Photo: Atiku's Former $2.95m mansion in Potomac, Maryland

About 12 years after the raid, Atiku sold the property.

 

CONCLUSION

The is was by no means a legal judgment or confiction of Atiku Abubakar, but may have been one of the deterents of his travel to the U.S.

 

Article Credit: Leadership Newspaper

Updated 1 Month ago
 

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Tags:     Atiku Abubakar     U.S Visit     2019 Elections

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