FORMER vice president Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and his family have been placed under close watch by the US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (Fincen) amid allegations that he could have been engaged in suspicious financial transactions.
Between 1999 and 2007, Alhaji Abubakar was Nigeria’s vice president, serving under Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. Towards the end of their administration, the two men fell out but since them they have made up, with Chief Obasanjo even supporting his former deputy’s bid to become president last year.
At the time Atiku was vice president, it was suspected that he was involved in corrupt practices, transferring huge sums of money across international jurisdictions using shell companies. New findings have now shown that Fincen flagged some transactions linked to Atiku as suspicious as it surveyed money movements within the international financial system.
Denying this, however, Atiku dared his detractors to provide evidence against him. US authorities are said to still be busy pouring through records to determine if the former vice president had engaged in any recent financial transaction that could be considered questionable or suspicious.
Atiku said: “I have always said that if they have any evidence of corruption against Atiku, please come forward. However, nobody has been able to come forward.”
Fincen files, a new investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, BuzzFeed and 108 media partners across the world, are a large volume of confidential financial reports relating to the transaction activities of world leaders, terrorists, drug dealers and money launderers. These files included a large number of suspicious-activity reports filed by banks and other financial institutions to the US government as required by the Bank Secrecy Act., with the total amount in suspicious transactions reported being $2trn.
Alhaji Atiku Abubakar was a stakeholder in GTCN, a trust corporation incorporated in Nigeria in 2003, to hold his 16% stake in Intels Nigeria, Nigeria’s oil and gas logistics giant. This entity has been locked in a business battle with the Nigerian Ports Authority in recent years.
In 1999, when he became Nigeria’s vice president, Atiku created a blind trust to hold his asset in Intels. In 2010, the US Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations indicted GTCN alongside other companies linked to Atiku and one Mr Volpi.
Of the $40m identified in the US Senate investigation regarding Atiku, $25m was reportedly wire-transferred into more than 30 US bank accounts opened by Jennifer Douglas, Atiku’s fourth wife. These wire transfers were primarily by GTCN, LetsGo Inc and Sima Holdings, two offshore corporations registered in Panama and the British Virgin Islands, respectively and controlled by Mr Volpi.