How UK Crime Agency indicted Benedict Peters, Aiteo Group chief, for money laundering, bribery Pt2
Documents obtained by our reporter have detailed how Mr. Benedict Peters, the President of AITEO Group, was involved in sundry crimes including money laundering and bribery among others in relation to oil deals with fugitive Mrs. Diezani Madueke, Nigeria’s ex-Petroleum Resources Minister.
Peters who has been on the run from Nigeria, US and UK was heavily indicted in a witness statement before the Crown Court at Southwark, United Kingdom where he was being tried for multiple charges under the Proceed of Crime Act 2002 (as Amended).
Depositions by Stacey Boniface, a financial investigator accredited under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (as Amended) who was authorized to make the witness statement on behalf of Helen Hughes, a Specialist Prosecutor at the Proceeds of Crime Service, Crown Prosecution Service, fingered Peters as one of the beneficiaries of Mrs. Madueke’s improper conduct in the allocation of oil wells and sundry favours from her table as minister.
Under minister Allison-Madueke, Peters in alliance with a consortium, were handed over the lucrative oil block, OML 29. The total value for the bid for OML 29 was $2.5bn, with a projected income of over $4.02bn between 2914 and 2020.
As payback for her ‘kind’ gestures, according to the witness, Peters and others rewarded the minister with purchase of choice property in the UK and other places. It was alleged that Allison-Madueke obtained as least part of those rewards in the United Kingdom and in such circumstance, both the payer and receiver were deemed to have contravened the Bribery Act 2010 or the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
According to the deposition of the witness: “In addition to the offences of bribery, funds corruptly or fraudulently obtained would constitute criminal property. It is believed that persons transferring the criminal property in the United Kingdom and converting it by way of high value property purchases, the purchase of other high value goods and the provision of services for the former minister would commit offences contrary to section 327 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.”
The witness said: “It is believed that Peters, in providing financial rewards to Allison-Madueke in return for favour showed to companies owned by him, has committed offences under the Bribery Act 2010, and by transferring and converting funds from bribery, has also potentially committed money laundering offences under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.”
Some of the property alleged to have been purchased on behalf of the ex-minister by her cronies include the property situated at:
a) 58 Harley House, Marylebone Road, NW1 5HL
b) Flat 5 Park View, 83-86 Prince Albert Road, NW6 7RU
According to the witness, Land Registry Title Deeds showed that the leasehold for 58 Harley House, Marylebone Road, NW1 5HL was purchased by Rosewood Investments Limited on 15th April 2011 for £2,800,000. The conveyance solicitor for the purchase was OJS Solicitor, 60 Bell Street, NW1 6SP.
Details of the FBN (UK) Ltd bank account for Peter’s company, Sullam Voe, was obtained by investigators and they confirm that the payments for the property originated from that bank account. Benedict Peters is the signatory to the Sullam Voe bank account, the payment was made to the conveyance solicitor, OJS Law.
“The conveyance file for the purchase shows that Rosewood Investments Limited was incorporated in the Seychelles on 28th October 2010, and includes a copy of Benedict Peters’ passport. Materials obtained from Daniel Ford Estate Agents include a share certificate for Rosewood Investments Limited, which showed that the shareholder as Lansdowne Limited as Nominee and Trustee for Benedict Peters. It can be evidenced that that Peters is the beneficial owner of Rosewood Investments Limited and of 58 Harley House,” the witnessed deposed.
The witness attested to other shady deals by Peters and others, some of whom have fled the UK. They acted individually and collectively to violate UK laws on crime and money laundering.
Recall that in early 2017, Private Eye, UK’s authoritative news and current affairs magazine famed for its incisive social and political observations and investigative journalism unearthed how politically exposed Nigerians and other nationals are using the lucrative UK property market to stash away illicit money from their home countries.
The report traced how public persons in offshore nations have found the UK property market a safe conduit to hide ill-gotten wealth. The report which did not name the Nigerians involved, except former Delta State governor James Ibori, alluded strongly to politically exposed persons from developing nations making the most, illicitly, of the dynamic UK market.
In its expository edition, the Private Eye wrote inter alia:
How many kleptocrats are stashing their ill-gotten gains in London’s property market? The Eye has identified quite a few in the past couple of years, such as corrupt Nigerian governor James Ibori’s houses in Hampstead and elsewhere. But a report from Transparency International now puts a number on the problem.
Researchers looked at around 45,000 property and land acquisitions by offshore companies in London, first established by the Eye’s work and mapped online (see www.private-eye.co.uk/