An investigation by SaharaReporters has revealed that Bayelsa Senator Benjamin Murray-Bruce may have illegally diverted a loan he obtained from Union Bank of Nigeria to purchase a posh property in Beverly Hills, California in 2007. Mr. Murray-Bruce has been in the spotlight lately after the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) on June 23, 2016 seized several of his Silverbird media companies for failing to make payments on billions of naira in loans.
Mr. Murray-Bruce, the self-proclaimed Commonsense Senator, was one of the most vocal senators during the #BuyNaijaToGrowTheNaira, a movement that criticizes those who needlessly import foreign goods. He touted his reputation for building businesses in Nigeria to champion the importance of domestic investment in goods.
Several banking sources in Nigeria told SaharaReporters that the N11 billion loan Mr. Murray-Bruce took out from Union Bank around 2007 was supposed to be used to construct the Abuja Entertainment Center. According to the sources, instead of using the loan to fund his Nigerian business operations, Mr. Murray-Bruce diverted it to purchase an opulent property in the Beverly Hills area of Los Angeles and London.
The Los Angeles County Property Assessor’s Office, the Real Estate Records office, and the Special Investigation unit confirmed to SaharaReporters that the Nigerian senator from Bayelsa State purchased a property on August 6th, 2007 and remains the owner. The address is 605 North Camden Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210.
A public records search, also confirmed by municipal employees in Los Angeles County, assessed the value of Senator Murray-Bruce’s land at $3.1 million. The value of the mansion and other structures at the property was estimated at no less than $795,000.
The senator’s Beverly Hills swanky property has four bedrooms, three bathrooms, and a swimming pool and is estimated to be at least 2,777 square feet. Assessments of real estate platforms show that the property is worth $5 million as of today.
SaharaReporters also obtained a bond receipt document that confirmed Mr. Murray-Bruce’s ties to the property. The document also listed Stella Albright as having a connection to the property. A public records search of Mrs. Albright found that she was a board member of a company, Dream Magic Studios LLC, alongside Mr. Murray-Bruce.