The anti-corruption war is literally getting good as it gets with the planned trip to Dubai, the capital of United Arab Emirate by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, and Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Mr. Ibrahim Magu to recover over $200b looted funds as well as mansions built by some former serving public servants in Nigeria including governors, ministers among other high net worth individuals, Ripples has learnt.
Informed sources at EFCC confirmed to Ripples that those being investigated for complicity in the alleged sleaze are seven ex-governors, about six former Ministers, a fleeing Presidential aide implicated in the $2.1billion arms deals, ex-military chiefs under probe, agents/fronts of some of these public officers and a about five chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who have either stashed away funds in Dubai or acquired properties.
Ripples Nigeria was reliably informed that a Federal Government team being led by Malami and Magu are perfecting plans to see their UAE counterparts to ensure thorough investigation.
While the EFCC officials arrived in Dubai on Saturday, the Minister hurriedly left Abuja on Monday morning to join the team.
A source in the government last night said: “Yes, the AGF and the EFCC chairman with some top officials of the anti-graft agency are in Dubai for a follow up technical session on the Mutual Legal Assistance between Nigeria and the UAE. “I can confirm the official trip and it is meant to recover looted funds.”
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign and Domestic Debts, Senator Shehu Sani said over $200 billion had been hidden in UAE.
He said: “Over $200 billion are stashed away from Nigeria to Dubai alone.
This may include monies stolen since the past 20 years. I am not talking about estates and bonds and other securities bought with Nigerian stolen money.”
A highly placed source at EFCC, who would not be named, said: “The FG team has met with those from the UAE on intelligence sharing, the list of those on EFCC radar, the number of highly-placed Nigerians with fat accounts in UAE and those with choice properties in Marina (Dubai), Bur Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha.
“Some of the former governors include one from the South-South, two from North-Central, two from the North-East, one from the North-West, and one from the South-West.
“A former-governor had made botched attempts to transfer about $517million loot to Dominican Republic because UAE law is now strict.
“More than six ex-Ministers and a former presidential aide, who is on the run over $2.1billion arms deals, were said to have acquired choice mansions and malls in UAE. One of the former Ministers, who was alleged to own two houses in Dubai, was said to have served as a front for a former First Lady.
“Another ex-Minister had bought some malls through a few cronies in Dubai.
The list of such agents is presently being screened.
The source continued, that “The success of the collaboration between the FG team and the UAE Government will determine when EFCC will release the concessions on some of these PEPs. Very soon, we will unveil these ex-political office holders.”
It is still unclear if those found culpable will be prosecuted in Nigeria or in UAE where they are taking shelter.
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 organisations, 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.”
It was learnt that the AGF had barely returned from an official errand when an urgent travel arrangement was made for him.
The delegation went to UAE in line with the agreement with the Federal Government.
President Muhammadu Buhari in January had 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.”