23 Mar 2020
At least 800 properties in Dubai appear to have ties to current and former Nigerian politicians, their family members, associates or alleged proxies, according to a new report published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
The findings, which are based on an analysis of an acquired database of real estate transactions in the emirate, suggest that corrupt Nigerian politicians have used Dubai’s property market to launder hundreds of millions of dollars in ill-gotten gains. The Nigerian political figures linked to property in Dubai include sitting state governors, individuals tied to former Delta State governor James Ibori, associates of former Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha and former Minister of Education Ahmadu Ali, among others, according to the report.
While a Nigerian politician’s ownership of Dubai real estate doesn’t indicate criminality in and of itself, roughly 25 percent of the properties identified in the report can be “linked to individuals who have previously been investigated, arrested, prosecuted, or convicted by Nigeria’s anticorruption agencies,” the report said. “This category includes, for example, a man the EFCC arrested in 2010 for smuggling gold from Nigeria to Dubai; he is connected to five Dubai properties purchased for a total of $1.4 million.”
The 800 properties cited in the report are estimated to be worth more than $400 million, or roughly two-thirds of the Nigerian Army’s annual budget and three times that of the budget for nation’s Independent National Electoral Commission, the US-based think tank concluded.
The appetite for Dubai property among politically exposed persons (PEPs) from Nigeria is “so voracious that a burgeoning group of middlemen now specialize in selling Dubai property to recently elected politicians and newly appointed officials,” according to the report, which was authored non-resident Carnegie scholar Matthew Page. “Some of these salesmen are scam artists seeking to con naive legislators keen to convert some of their ill-gotten gains into offshore real estate. One former legislator from Nigeria’s Kaduna State, for example, lost tens of thousands of dollars to one such hustler.”
Read the full report here
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