Business

Tour reveals shady Nigerian cash behind London luxury homes

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Print this page Email A Friend!


LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) — In a bid to expose the murky Nigerian money lurking behind some of London's most high-end properties, anti-corruption campaigners are offering an unusual property tour of the British capital.

As the coach carrying journalists and campaigners winds through luxurious west London, experts revealed the hidden world of misused public funds, unexplained wealth and the British “enablers” who make it happen.

The coach's first stop was the multimillion-pound home of “one of the biggest political movers” currently operating in Nigeria, who was named in the so-called “Panama Papers” leak that revealed the holders of offshore accounts in the tax haven.

One of the expert guides, journalist and author Oliver Bullough, said London had become the “Death Star” of global kleptocracy, which he defined as the stealing, hiding and spending of public money.

He explained that London was unique in being able to facilitate the final two steps in that process.

The British capital's banking sector and overseas dependencies were able to hide dirty cash, and its high-end estate agents were eager to convert the cash into properties, many of which remain empty, Bullough said.

The next stop takes in a luxury flat close to Marble Arch, which another of the expert guides, former US State Department intelligence expert Matthew Page, said belongs to a political leader implicated in fuel-subsidy and bribery scandals in Nigeria.

NEIGHBOURHOODS HOLLOWED OUT

The tours are organised by anti-corruption campaigner Roman Borisovich, who has specialised in exposing shady Russian money, and are held every few months.

Borisovich said he set up the tours “to attract public attention to the enormous proportions of money laundering that is being washed through UK properties”.

He told AFP he had chosen Nigeria for the latest tour as it was “the only country that is openly asking the British government to repatriate the proceeds of crime, which were stolen from the country”.

Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari last year called for a return of some of the estimated US$37 billion (31.5 billion euros) stolen from Nigeria that has ended up in London.

One of the stops on the tour is a multi-million pound central London flat currently at the centre of a civil lawsuit by the US Department of Justice.

US authorities believe the property was a gift to Nigerian former energy minister Diezani Alison-Madueke in exchange for an oil contract.

Alison-Madueke has been implicated in bribery, fraud, misuse of public funds and money laundering cases in Britain, Italy, Nigeria and the United States.

The former president of the global oil cartel OPEC — and the first female to hold the post — she has always denied the allegations which involve billions of US dollars syphoned from oil deals and state accounts.

Another luxury property on the tour is registered to the charity of a Nigerian career politician, while guides explain the intricate backroom deals between oil giants and public servants.

The mood amongst the journalists and activists on board takes a sombre turn as the coach passes Grenfell Tower, the west London bloc where an estimated 80 people died in a fire in June.

The luxury flat of a Nigerian businessman and academic in the very same development which rehoused the survivors of tragedy is the final stop.

“We wanted to emphasise the problem that money laundering creates in London when you have affluent areas that are becoming deserted, whole neighbourhoods are being hollowed out, while the less well-off are suffering, like in the Grenfell Tower,” Borisovich told AFP.

His NGO, ClampK, is set to host more tours, with other countries such as Kazakhstan in the spotlight, and is preparing a smartphone app to allow members of the public to do their own walking tours of the capital's dirty money hotspots.

ADVERTISEMENT




POST A COMMENT

HOUSE RULES

1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper � email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed: advertising@jamaicaobserver.com.

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email: community@jamaicaobserver.com.

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy



comments powered by Disqus
ADVERTISEMENT

Poll

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon
ADVERTISEMENT