• Business - Companies
  • Updated: September 22, 2020

Breakdown Of Suspicious Funds Linked To Atiku Abubakar, Three Wives, Two Companies

Former Nigerian Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, has been linked to a series of money laundering. The money laundering was also linked to Atiku's company, Guernsey Trust Company Nigeria Limited, which is reportedly a 'shell company' and Intels Nigeria Limited used to channel various funds to several foreign accounts.

Atiku was said to have created Guernsey Trust Company Nigeria Limited to manage his 16 percent stake in Nigeria’s oil and gas logistics giant, Intels Nigeria Limited.

Atiku had created a blind trust in Intels Nigeria when he became the Vice President of Nigeria in 1999 - GTCN was established to manage this blind trust. GTCN was incorporated in 2003 according to the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) records seen by AllNews.

It was incorporated with Gabrielle Volpi, while banker, Akintola Kekere-Ekun and lawyer, Uyiekpen Osagieas were directors and trustees. Osagie is under investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for $2 million which the commission reportedly suspects might have been budgeted for vote-buying during the 2019 election.

According to an investigative report, FinCEN Files, by investigative journalism syndicate, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, Atiku and his family; including three wives, used GTCN to transfer funds into several foreign company accounts in the United States and Dubai to acquire properties and reportedly hide cash.

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Suspicious Activities Linked To Atiku, Wives, Companies

The activities of the GTCN accounts were detailed in suspicious-activity reports (SARs). It was disclosed that GTCN wired $1,018,500 on March 5, 2012, to a Tanjay Real Estate Brokers, a company with an account in Habib Bank Limited New York (HBLNY), Dubai. The bank flagged the wire transfer due to the fund link to Atiku, thereby, triggering HBLNY's monitoring system which tracks suspicious activity.

Transaction For Rukaiyatu Abubakar: The suspicious fund was transferred to acquire a flat in the World Trade Centre residences in Dubai, purchased for Atiku's senior wife, Rukaiyatu Abubakar. Two months before the transaction, January 25, 2012, a wire transfer of $200,000 had occurred between GTCN and Tanjay; also for a flat for Rukaiyatu Abubakar.

Another transfer was made between both parties, this time, the amount was summed at CHF 741,000 - the transaction history and that of March 5, 2012, led to Deutsche Bank New York raising a compliance question to make enquiry about the multiple transactions done through HBLNY, Dubai.

Transaction For Amina Titi Abubakar: Investigation into the multiple wire transactions revealed that more transactions by GTCN had occurred since May 2005 during Atiku's second tenure as vice president. The discovered transactions by GTCN was wired to an account GTCN held with Habib Allied International Bank London, (HAIB London) from multiple accounts held in Switzerland, Premium Times, a member of the syndicate investigative journalists revealed.

The transactions were said to have been made for Amina Titi Abubakar's “personal expenses”; Amina was the first wife and Nigeria’s former second lady - it was gathered that the transactions were also routed through HBLNY.

Transactions Involving Atiku’s fourth wife, Jennifer Douglas: She reportedly opened several accounts which was linked to money laundering or products of foreign corruption by the US Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. The Subcommittee indicted GTCN and other companies linked to Atiku and Volpi in 2010.

As a Politically Exposed Person (PEP), there are claims that Atiku could have used his position and political influence to aid illegal activities, this puts Atiku on the path of the subcommittee that investigated how “foreign senior political figures, their relatives, and associates may be circumventing or undermining anti-money laundering (AML) and PEP controls to bring funds that may be the product of foreign corruption into the United States.”

The investigation involving Atiku unraveled $40 million, with $25 million of the fund reportedly wire-transferred into more than 30 U.S. bank accounts opened by Douglas - all the transfers were also done during Atiku's time as Nigeria's vice president, the US Senate report disclosed, according to Premium Times.

According to the report, the wire transfers were done mostly by GTCN, as well as LetsGo Ltd. Inc., and Sima Holding Ltd - LetsGo and Sima Holding are controlled by Volpi and are offshore corporations registered in Panama and the British Virgin Islands, respectively; a letter to the Senate committee by the businessman’s lawyer, Raymond Shepherd of the Washington-based Venable firm revealed.

Transaction Involving Atiku And Intels Nigeria: In 2017, another SARs report was filed involving Intels Nigeria. It was reported that Intels Nigeria was involved in about 27 transactions which amount to $11,140,357. The funds were routed through Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas (DBTCA).

The funds were also flagged as suspicious by DBTCA, “Negative information was found regarding the partial owner and co-founder of Intels Nigeria Limited, Atiku Abubakar, having been the subject of investigations for allegations of fraud, corruption, and money laundering between 2000 and 2008,” DBTCA reported about Atiku and Intels. 

DBTCA added that "this negative media was reported in prior SARs, and no new negative media was discovered.”

Atiku And Family Under Fraud Surveillance

Atiku and his family's financial activities are being monitored. According to HBLNY, “an investigation (of the March 2012 wire transfer) identified GTCN as an alleged shell company that has been used to transfer over USD 10 million via wire transfers through U.S. banks on behalf of the former vice-president of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar.

“HBLNY’s review of public sources revealed that there have been numerous investigations of Mr Abubakar, as senior Politically Exposed Person (PEP), linking him to corruption allegations, possible Foreign Corrupt Practices Act foreign violations and money laundering.”

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While the SARs report stated that, “Based on the negative information associated with parties identified, HBLNY has added Atiku Abubakar (the former vice president of Nigeria), Rukaiyatu Atiku Abubakar, Amina Atiku Abubakar, Massimo Del Celo, Uyiekpen Gboyega Giwa-Osagie, Tanjay, and GTCN to its internal automated real-time suspicious transaction monitoring for further surveillance of potential suspicious activity and this SAR is being filed against all parties listed.”

How These Suspicious Activities Were Discovered

It is noteworthy that banks usually file or note down suspicious financial or wire transfers, hence the suspicious-activity reports (SARs). Aside from Atiku and his family, the SARs reports also flagged various organisations and individuals in more than 170 countries.

The amount in suspicious transactions was pegged at $2 trillion ($2,099584,477,415.49). The SARs reports are filed by banks and other financial institutions to the US Government as required by the Bank Secrecy Act. The files are under the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), hence the 'FinCEN file' tag.

Despite the numerous links to suspicious funds and transactions involving Atiku's companies and his family, the SARs report doesn't translate into proof of any wrongdoing, however, with Atiku over the years always denying involvement in suspicious activities, these detailed SARs reports is a dent on his image which he tried to clean when he ran in the 2019 presidential election which he lost to the incumbent President, Muhammadu Buhari.

Since the SARs report was disclosed, Atiku hasn't reacted to the report, neither have his companies done the same.


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Olalekan Fakoyejo
Olalekan Fakoyejo

Fakoyejo Olalekan is a certified media practitioner from the Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ)....

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