Former Opec president charged with corruption during time as Nigerian oil minister

Diezani Alison-Madueke allegedly took bribes in return for awarding large contracts

Diezani Alison-Madueke was a key figure in the administration of former president Goodluck Jonathan, serving as petroleum minister from 2010 to 2015. AP
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A former president of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) has been charged in the UK with taking bribes during her time as a government minister in Nigeria.

Diezani Alison-Madueke is alleged to have benefitted from £100,000 in cash, chauffeur-driven cars, flights on private jets, luxury holidays for her family, and the use of several London properties, in exchange for awarding oil and gas contracts.

The charges against the 63-year-old provide details of alleged ill-gotten gains including furniture, renovation work and staff for the properties, as well as the payment of school fees, the UK’s National Crime Agency said.

The NCA, Britain’s equivalent of America's FBI, said Ms Alison-Madueke also received gifts from high-end designer shops, such as Cartier and Louis Vuitton.

The charges follow an investigation by the NCA’s International Corruption Unit.

Its officers have also worked with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission of Nigeria during the investigation, as well as with the NCA-backed International Anti-Corruption Co-ordination Centre.

Andy Kelly, head of the ICU, said: “We suspect Diezani Alison-Madueke abused her power in Nigeria and accepted financial rewards for awarding multimillion-pound contracts.

“These charges are a milestone in what has been a thorough and complex international investigation.

“Bribery is a pervasive form of corruption, which enables serious criminality and can have devastating consequences for developing countries. We will continue to work with partners here and overseas to tackle the threat.”

Ms Alison-Madueke was a key figure in the administration of former president Goodluck Jonathan, serving as petroleum minister from 2010 to 2015.

She was elected as the first female president of Opec in November 2014.

Assets worth millions of pounds relating to the alleged offences have already been frozen as part of the continuing investigation.

In March, the NCA also provided evidence to the US Department of Justice that enabled officials to recover assets totalling $53.1m linked to Ms Alison-Madueke’s alleged corruption.

The IACCC works in 37 jurisdictions and brings together specialist anti-corruption investigators from agencies around the world to tackle allegations of corruption involving politically exposed people.

Chief crown prosecutor Andrew Penhale said: “The Crown Prosecution Service has authorised the NCA to charge Diezani Alison-Madueke with bribery offences.

“The CPS made the decision to authorise the charge after reviewing a file of evidence from the NCA relating to allegations of bribery in Nigeria.”

Criminal proceedings against Ms Alison-Madueke are active and she has the right to a fair trial, Mr Penhale said.

“It is extremely important that there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information which could in any way prejudice these proceedings,” he added.

“The function of the CPS is not to decide whether a person is guilty of a criminal offence, but to make fair, independent and objective assessments about whether it is appropriate to present charges for a criminal court to consider.”

Ms Alison-Madueke, who currently lives in the upmarket St John’s Wood area of London will appear at Westminster Magistrates Court on October 2.

Updated: August 22, 2023, 3:22 PM