Nigeria’s immediate past Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, may be on her way to spending 14 years in prison, if found guilty of alleged charges of bribery, corruption and money laundering for which she was arrested in the United Kingdom (UK) on Friday.
This is even as it emerged yesterday that the former minister has been under the watch of the UK National Crime Agency (NCA) since 2013.
Money Laundering Regulations are designed to protect the UK financial system as well as prevent and detect crime. If a business is covered by these regulations, controls are put in place to prevent it from being used for money laundering.
According to Wikipedia, the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 contains the primary UK anti-money laundering legislation including provisions requiring businesses within the “regulated sector” (banking, investment, money transmission, certain professions, etc.) to report to the authorities suspicions of money laundering by customers or others.
Money laundering is broadly defined in the UK. In effect, any handling or involvement with any proceeds of any crime (or monies or assets representing the proceeds of crime) can be a money laundering offence. An offender’s possession of the proceeds of his own crime falls within the UK definition of money laundering. The definition also covers activities within the traditional definition of money laundering, as a process that conceals or disguises the proceeds of crime to make them appear legitimate.
Principal money laundering offences in the UK carry a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment.
In an update on its website on yesterday, the NCA said investigation into allegations of corruption against Alison-Madueke, and the four other people arrested alongside her had been on since 2013.
“The investigation commenced in 2013 under the Proceeds of Corruption Unit, and transferred to the NCA earlier this year,” the update stated.
Also according to yesterday’s update, the former minister had been released on “conditional bail.”
The other four unnamed persons arrested with her were also granted bail.
“All five people arrested were released on conditional police bail later that evening, pending further investigation both in the UK and overseas.”
The conditions of the bail were not immediately clear.