By Emmanuel Nduka
Former President of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Diezani Alison-Madueke, has been charged with bribery offences.
The charges relates to her time as Nigeria’s Petroleum Minister, the United Kingdom National Crime Agency (NCA) said on Tuesday.
Heritage Times HT recalls that 63-year-old Alison-Madueke has been on bail since first being arrested in London in October 2015. She will appear in court in the British capital on October 2, the NCA said.
Shortly after her arrest, her family’s lawyer told AFP that she would strongly contest the corruption allegations that have dogged her during and after her time as a former minister.
From 2010 to 2015, Alison-Madueke, served as the first woman to be oil minister in Nigeria, and the first female president of the global oil cartel OPEC.
“We suspect Diezani Alison-Madueke abused her power in Nigeria and accepted financial rewards for awarding multi-million pound contracts,” head of the NCA’s international corruption unit, Andy Kelly, said in a statement.
According to the NCA, Alison-Madueke allegedly benefited from at least £100,000 ($127,000) in cash, chauffeur-driven cars, flights on private jets, luxury holidays for her family, and the use of multiple London properties.
The charges also detail financial rewards including furniture, renovation work and staff for the properties, payment of private school fees, and gifts from top designer shops such as Cartier jewellery and Louis Vuitton goods.
“Bribery is a pervasive form of corruption, which enables serious criminality and can have devastating consequences for developing countries. These charges are a milestone in what has been a thorough and complex international investigation,” Kelly said.
The former minister has been living in the upmarket St John’s Wood area of north London since she was first arrested, and undergone chemotherapy for breast cancer, according to her family.
At the time of her arrest, the NCA said only it had detained five people in London on suspicion of international corruption, without naming those held.
Also, the NCA said that assets worth millions of pounds in relation to the case have been frozen as part of the investigation.
Earlier in March this year, the NCA provided evidence to the US Department of Justice allowing them to recover assets totalling $53.1 million linked to Alison-Madueke’s alleged corruption saga.