The United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency (NCA) said on Tuesday that Diezani Alison-Madueke, a former president of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), had been charged with bribery offenses pertaining to her time as Nigeria’s oil minister.
When Alison-Madueke, 63, was first detained in London in October 2015, she was released on bail. On October 2, she will show up in court in the British capital, according to the NCA.
Her family’s attorney said AFP shortly after her detention that she would vehemently refute the corruption accusations that have followed her both during and after her stint in the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
From 2010 to 2015, Alison-Madueke served as Nigeria’s first female oil minister and the first female leader of the world’s largest oil cartel, OPEC.
In a statement, Andy Kelly, the head of the NCA’s international corruption team, said, “We suspect Diezani Alison-Madueke abused her power in Nigeria and accepted financial rewards for awarding multi-million pound contracts.”
According to the NCA, Alison-Madueke allegedly benefited from at least £100,000 ($127,000) in cash, a fleet of chauffeur-driven cars, private jet travel, opulent vacations for her family, and the use of numerous houses in London.
The charges also list financial perks such furnishings, personnel for property renovations, payment for private school tuition, and gifts from high-end luxury stores like Louis Vuitton products and Cartier jewelry.
According to Kelly, “bribery is a pervasive form of corruption that fosters serious criminality and can have disastrous effects on developing countries.”
He continued, “These charges are a turning point in what has been a comprehensive and challenging international investigation.”
Since her initial arrest, Alison-Madueke has resided in the affluent neighborhood of St. John’s Wood in north London, where she has also had chemotherapy for breast cancer, according to her family.
When she was arrested, the NCA stated anonymously that it had only detained five persons in London on suspicion of participating in international corruption.
The Nigerian government of Jonathan’s successor Muhammadu Buhari later confirmed Alison-Madueke’s arrest and said its law enforcement agencies were cooperating with their British counterparts.
Former Army General Buhari began an anti-corruption drive after taking office.
The NCA said that assets worth millions of pounds in relation to the case have been frozen as part of the investigation.
In March, the agency, which targets international and organised crime, provided evidence to the US Department of Justice allowing them to recover assets totalling $53.1 million linked to Alison-Madueke’s alleged corruption.