The U.S. government has its eyes on a luxury condominium on Manhattan’s Billionaire’s Row in connection with its efforts to recover $144 million involving Nigerian oil contracts.
According to a lawsuit filed last week by the U.S. Justice Department in Houston, Kolawole Akanni Aluko and Olajide Omokore, a pair of Nigerian businessmen, made corrupt payments to a Nigerian official who oversaw the country’s state-owned oil company in exchange for contracts
According to a Bloomberg report, the money was allegedly laundered through the U.S.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Blanco said in a statement that the lawsuit seeks the forfeiture of the Galactica Star, an $80 million yacht, and a $50 million condo at Manhattan’s One57.
“Corrupt foreign officials and business executives should make no mistake: if illicit funds are within the reach of the United States, we will seek to forfeit them and to return them to the victims from whom they were stolen.”
Aluko, executive director of Atlantic Energy, had not been keeping up with payments on the unit. Luxembourg-based Banque Havilland, which issued a $35.3 million mortgage due last fall, is foreclosing on the apartment. It is due to be sold at auction this week.
Aluko’s penthouse at One57, one of Manhattan’s most expensive buildings, currently is in the foreclosure process after he defaulted on the $35.3 million loan and an auction has been forced by the mortgage lender. The auction for the property, a 6,240-square-foot penthouse, was set for July 19. That was put on hold after another creditor surfaced.
This new creditor claims that Aluko is on the hook for $83 million worth of unpaid gasoline and jet fuel. As a result, Havilland had to halt its foreclosure plans.
Aluko is accused of bankrolling his extravagant lifestyle with funds he scored by defrauding the Nigerian government of its oil sale profits.
The U.S. Department of Justice’s lawsuit alleges that Aluko and Omokore paid bribes to the Nigerian oil minister, who in return directed contracts to shell companies owned by the pair.
The suit was brought by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative, which has previously brought similar cases seeking assets from corruption by Malaysian and Uzbekistan officials, among others.
The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating Aluko’s business transactions and plans to seize all U.S. property purchased with money from his fraudulent deals. This would include the $80 million yacht that he is reportedly hiding out on.