Alleged $517m Loot: UAE Places Ex-gov Under Watch; Accounts of Other VIPs Under Surveillance
The recent visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to the United Araba Emirates (UAE), where he signed several agreements, one of which is the repatriation of stolen funds stashed in the Arab emirate by Nigerian citizens may have started paying off.
According to TheNation, authorities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are keeping intense watch over a former Nigerian governor who is believed to have stashed a $517million loot in the Middle East country.
The action of the UAE authorities according to the paper has thwarted a recent move by the former governor to move the looted funds to the Dominican Republic.
Also under security watch in the UAE are the accounts and other transactions of some Nigerian VIPs who have turned the country into a safety net for their loots.
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign and Domestic Debts, Mallam Shehu Sani said yesterday that as much as $200 billion of stolen funds from Nigeria may have been hidden in the UAE by past public officers and their agents/fronts.
A major dividend of the collaboration is intelligence report on the former governor, who is suspected to have stashed $517million in UAE.
A source familiar with the development said the former governor is “under the watch-list of the UAE and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).”
“He (former governor) has been worried in the last few weeks but the law will catch up with him.
“The ex-governor made botched attempts to transfer about $517million loot to the Dominican Republic because UAE law is now strict.
“The affected ex-governor is lying low and avoiding that country in order not to suffer the James Ibori fate.”
On the accounts of some Nigerian VIPs said to be also under surveillance in the UAE, a security source said: “following the recent signing of the Mutual Legal Assistance Agreement between the two countries, the accounts, transactions and investments of some Nigerians have been under surveillance.
“This is based on the sharing of intelligence between Nigeria and UAE. In fact, some of those being watched have reduced their frequent trips to the Emirates.
“Actually any highly-placed Nigerian arrested for money laundering in UAE risks a 10 -year imprisonment.”
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign and Domestic Debts, Senator Shehu Sani said yesterday in Abuja that over $200 billion stolen from Nigeria may be have been hidden in the UAE.
He said: “Over $200 billion are stashed away in Dubai alone. This may be the monies stolen in the last 20 years. I am not talking about estates and bonds and other securities bought with Nigeria’s stolen money.”
President Muhammadu Buhari in January signed a Judicial Agreement on Extradition, Transfer of Sentenced Persons, Mutual Legal Assistance on Criminal Matters, and Mutual Legal Assistance on Criminal and Commercial Matters, which includes the recovery and repatriation of stolen wealth with the UAE.
The anti-money laundering policy of UAE Central Bank reads in part: “Any person who commits, or attempts to commit, a Money Laundering offence shall be punished by imprisonment of up to 10 years and or a fine of between AED 100,000 and AED 500,000.
“In cases of multiple perpetrators, the Court subject to its discretion, may exempt a perpetrator from the imprisonment penalty if he takes the initiative and reports the crime to the competent authorities prior to the knowledge of such authorities and if his actions lead to the arrest of the other perpetrators or seizure of the laundered money.
“Any establishment that commits an offence of money laundering, financing of terrorism or financing of any unlawful organizations, shall be punished by a fine of AED 300,000 and AED 1,000,000.
“Failure to report a suspicious transaction shall be punishable by imprisonment and /or a fine of between AED 50,000 and AED 300,000.
“Tipping off a person being investigated regarding a suspicious transaction shall be punishable by imprisonment of up to one year and/ or a fine of between AED10,000 and AED 100,000.
“Violation of the requirements of Airport Declarations shall be punishable by imprisonment and or a fine.”