A report on how former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, was the subject of a probe 11 years ago by the United States Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs chaired by Senator Carl Levin has been obtained by SaharaReporters.
The report detailed how Atiku as Vice President of Nigeria used offshore companies to siphon millions of dollars between 2000 and 2008 to his fourth wife in the United States, Jennifer Iwenjiora Douglas Abubakar.
Jennifer, originally an indigene of Onitsha, Anambra State, and a Nigerian Television Authority News correspondent in the 1980s later moved to and became a citizen of the United States.
According to the report submitted to the US Senate by the committee on February 10, 2010, the illegally transferred money made Atiku an “employer of labor” and a proud owner of American University of Nigeria (AUN), a school, whose tuition fees more than 99% of Nigerian students cannot afford.
SaharaReporters gathered that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain established AUN at a time when public universities were collapsing under him and Obasanjo and poor Nigerian students were languishing at home due to strike action by lectures over poor funding.
Former President George Bush had in 2004 barred Atiku and other corrupt politically exposed persons from being issued visas to the US.
The US Senate probe indicting the former Nigerian Vice President was motivated by US government concern about corruption in the Third World and its corrosive effects on the development of honest government, democratic principles, and the rule of law.
The report partly reads, “From 2000 to 2008, Jennifer Douglas, a U.S. citizen and the fourth wife of Atiku Abubakar, former Vice President and former candidate for President of Nigeria, helped her husband bring over $40 million in suspect funds into the United States through wire transfers sent by offshore corporations to U.S. bank accounts.
“In a 2008 civil complaint, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission alleged that Ms. Douglas received over $2 million in bribe payments in 2001 and 2002, from Siemens AG, a major German corporation.
“While Ms. Douglas denies wrongdoing, Siemens has already pleaded guilty to U.S. criminal charges and settled civil charges related to bribery and told the Subcommittee that it sent the payments to one of her U.S. accounts.
“In 2007, Mr. Atiku was the subject of corruption allegations in Nigeria related to the Petroleum Technology Development Fund. Of the $40 million in suspect funds, $25 million was wire transferred by offshore corporations into more than 30 U.S. bank accounts opened by Ms. Douglas, primarily by Guernsey Trust Company Nigeria Ltd., LetsGo Ltd. Inc., and Sima Holding Ltd.
“The U.S. banks maintaining those accounts were, at times, unaware of her PEP status, and they allowed multiple, large offshore wire transfers into her accounts. As each bank began to question the offshore wire transfers, Ms. Douglas indicated that all of the funds came from her husband and professed little familiarity with the offshore corporations actually sending her money.
“When one bank closed her account due to the offshore wire transfers, her lawyer helped convince other banks to provide a new account. In addition, two of the offshore corporations wire transferred about $14 million over five years to American University in Washington, D.C., to pay for consulting services related to the development of a Nigerian university founded by Mr. Atiku Abubakar.
“American University accepted the wire transfers without asking about the identity of the offshore corporations or the source of their funds, because under current law, the University had no legal obligation to inquire.
“Combating corruption is a key U.S. value and goal, due to its corrosive effects on the rule of law, economic development, and democratic principles. In 2001, the Patriot Act made the acceptance of foreign corruption proceeds a U.S. money laundering offense for the first time, and required banks to apply enhanced scrutiny to private banking accounts opened for senior foreign political figures, their relatives, and close associates.
“In 2003, the United States supported the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, now ratified by over 140 countries. Also in 2003, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) formed an investigative group dedicated to combating foreign corruption by PEPs.
“In 2004, President Bush issued Presidential Proclamation 7750 denying U.S. visas to foreign officials involved with corruption, and Congress later enacted supporting legislation. A 2009 study sponsored by the World Bank analyzed PEP controls worldwide and recommended stronger measures to reduce corruption.
“The Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (Subcommittee) initiated this investigation to learn how U.S. laws apply to PEPs utilizing the domestic financial system, and examine how foreign senior political figures, their relatives, and close 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. It is the latest in a series of Subcommittee hearings examining foreign corruption and its U.S. aiders and abettors.
“During the course of its investigation, the Subcommittee staff conducted over 100 interviews, including interviews of lawyers, real estate agents, escrow agents, lobbyists, bankers, university professionals, and government officials.
“The Subcommittee issued over 50 subpoenas and reviewed millions of pages of documents, including bank records, correspondence, contracts, emails, property records, flight records, news articles, and court pleadings. In addition, the Subcommittee consulted with foreign officials, international organizations, financial regulators, and experts in anti-money laundering and anti-corruption efforts.”
It would be recalled that a former US congressman, William Jefferson was in 2010 sentenced to 13 years in jail for corruption that involved US companies and Nigerian officials.
The ruling by Federal Judge, TS Ellis III of the US District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, followed Jefferson's conviction for collecting bribes on behalf of Nigerian officials, specifically, Atiku.
However, the FBI found $90,000 cash, which Jefferson said was meant for the PDP chieftain, hidden in a freezer.
But Atiku and his wife, Jennifer did not accept summons and subpoenas to appear before the US court.
Instead, they moved their family out to Dubai, and put their potomac mansion up for sale.