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|Amb. Adefunye Involved In DC Visa Scam...// Breaking by Vin-Modebelu: 3:54pm On Jun 20, 2012|
Last week, an online news portal revealed that two American banks in an unprecedented investigation for money laundering and other financial crimes froze two bank accounts belonging to the Nigerian Embassy in the United States. The story carried by Sharpedgenews.com was titled, U.S Banks Freeze Nigerian Embassys Bank Accounts
In Money Laundering Case, and published on May 5, 2012.
Elombah.com has pursued an ongoing investigation into these allegations. The stunning discovery about the activities and history of similar irregularities and corruption within the Nigerian foreign mission took our reporters by surprise, including reports of human trafficking.
The current scandals relate to a practice that has been well entrenched over time. Elombah.com spoke to two former diplomats and a former finance attachÃ© of the Nigerian Embassy in Washington, none of whom agreed to be mentioned by name in view of the sensitive nature of the information.
From these former diplomats, Elombah.com learned that the Nigerian Embassies have used the various avenues of diplomatic protection and immunities to cover up money laundering.
The full story of the current scandal as published by Sharpedgenews.com goes thus:
Two American banks have reportedly placed an embargo on accounts belonging to Nigeria missions in New York and Washington D.C., according to a report yesterday by sharpedgenews.com, a web-site news publication.
According to sources familiar with on-going investigations initiated by two leading American banks, Bank of America and Wells Fargo, the Nigerian missions, the countrys Embassy In Washington D.C and the permanent mission to the United Nations had their accounts frozen following the failure of Nigerian diplomatic officials to satisfactorily explain suspicious use of a total of $3.6 million sums, wired through separate accounts with the two banks.
Sharpedgenew.com learnt from sources familiar with the critical investigations that the officials of the two banks suspected that accounts belonging to the two missions might have been used as conduits for laundering and other unscrupulous activities.¨
After being flagged by relevant financial monitoring agencies in the united State, auditors from the two banks decided to scrutinise the missions books.
Employees of the two diplomatic outlets have been having issues paying bills and meeting other financial obligation because they have not been paid their salaries and other entitlement after activities relating to the operation of the missions accounts were poorly explained and as such were barred from continued operations.
A source said that some Nigerian officials developed the habit of simply dumping funds with affected accounts without justifiable end use, thus turning the missions to conduit for siphoning cash from Nigeria.
Nigerias Auditor-General and his subordinate have since arrived the United States to assist in reconciling the reckless and improperly kept books, it was learnt. But how the efforts of the auditors would clear the air on suspicions of stealing, fraud and money laundering remains to be seen. ¨
A source claimed that such suspected funds usually originate from state governors and other Nigerian functionaries.
One retired diplomat told elombah.com this is one of the most profound scandals to rock Nigeriaâs foreign mission and diplomatic service since the countrys independence.
While most Nigerian foreign missions are run with several corrupt motive, everyone that volunteered information on the above report agree that this most notorious case, highlighting large scale corruption at the Nigerian Embassy to the United States, headed by Ambassador Ade Adefuye, is now a national crisis.
The money laundering scheme is too simple and easy for it not to have been exploited by corrupt Nigerian diplomats. It works like this: A Nigerian official who wants to escape the watchful eyes of the regulatory agencies of a host state, say America, would simply wire money into an account in the US which belongs to the Nigerian Embassy. This will be done with the knowledge of the Embassy officials, who would actually notify officials of their banks making it appear that Nigerian Government is sending its routine funding for the Embassy operations. The money arrives and is lodged into the account of the Embassy. The politician or official from Nigerian arrives in the US a few days after and proceeds to the Embassy. The Embassy goes to the bank and withdraws large amount of money in cash, usually the entire amount that just wired into the account. The money is then handed over to the Nigerian official in a suitcase usually in the house of the Ambassador with Ambassador and the Finance AttachÃ© of the Embassy present. Usually, the Ambassador and his cooperating officials have taken their share, which was agreed to in advance, and the balance is handed over to the Nigerian public official.
According to the insiders, the Ambassadors cut is sometimes as high as 20 percent. Because it is the Embassy, with all the normal diplomatic protections, no questions are asked and the US authorities can do nothing. It is a perfect system for corruption and money laundering.
Many serving and serving diplomatic staff would not speak to elombah.com on record, but one person who is aware of this scheme but not afraid to speak to Elombah.com is Emeka Ugwuonye, the former counsel to the Embassy of Nigeria in the United States for about 8 years. According to Ugwuonye:The Embassy, given its immense and complex mechanisms of diplomatic protections, can do quite a number of things an individual or private organization cannot do. And Nigerian Embassies have certainly abused the system and committed several crimes.
Investigation shows that complaints about the Embassy activities in Washington had increased four folds since Adefuye assumed office. Governors, Ministers, Nigerian businessmen now routinely evade American financial regulatory authorities just by colluding with Ambassador Adefuye, who is said to be selfish and greedy.
It has been learned that the current investigation against the Embassy originated from a whistle blower within the Embassy. This was an official who had worked with Adefuye in receiving a two million dollars wire from Nigeria for one of the State Governors. The official was promised 2% out of the 20% that the Ambassador got from that transaction. Rather than give the officer his share of the transaction, Adefuye refused and threatened the officer with a recall from Abuja. The officer, outraged and disappointed, contacted the US State Department, which contacted the US Justice Department over the matter.
The problem for the American authorities was that it could be alarming in the diplomatic community, especially for other African countries, if the US Justice Department were to directly investigate the Nigerian Embassy for money laundering, given diplomatic laws and immunities for foreign missions. But the Americans had a plan: Rather than pursue the matter directly as criminal investigation, the US alerted the banks used by the Embassy and demanded that they investigate the matter. The implication is quite profound in law. While diplomats enjoy immunities, there is an exception to such immunities, known as commercial transaction exception. It means that when diplomats engage in commercial transactions, they cannot invoke immunity on any dispute arising from such transaction. Opening a bank account and maintaining such account is viewed as a commercial transaction. That is why the US banks are moving aggressively against the Embassy. And Nigeria cannot do anything but wait to see what the Americans decide to do.
A lot of pointers raised problems for the Embassy and made it easy for the banks to suspect the Embassy. Information from people familiar with the Embassy problems revealed that the Embassy owes many of its service providers. Embassy owes on its phone bills, electricity bills, water bills, etc. Also, it owes salaries to its staff. Yet, the same Embassy is receiving millions of dollars in its accounts and withdrawing millions of dollars in cash regularly. The banks therefore believe that the monies moving into and out of the Embassy accounts could not have been for the legitimate business of the Embassy.
From our discovery, almost all Nigerian foreign missions are run with the same corrupt motives and practices as seen in other parts of Nigerian public institutions, with self-enrichment being the key motive behind the activities of Nigerias diplomats, but Ambassador Adefuye is widely known as the most enterprising Nigeria Ambassador.
The term is used cynically or derogatorily to refer to him as the most corrupt Nigerian Ambassador. He sees his office as a racket and had used his position as an opportunity to hustle for money and for corrupt enrichment. While corruption has been well entrenched in the Embassies all the while.
Adefuye has taken it to new levels and has invented new avenues for corruption.
Elombah.com also discovered that the Nigerian Embassy, under Ambassador Adefuye, has engaged in other criminal activities including human trafficking. This is how that works: Because Embassy officials, being diplomats, are allowed to bring Nigerians into the US as domestic staff. It is a universal practice. What Nigerian diplomats in the US do is that they collect money from wealthy Nigerians and they would bring in the relatives or girlfriends of those Nigerians, pretending that they are their domestic staff. But once the Nigerian gets into the US, he or she goes after the main reason for her coming to the US. Sometime the Nigerian that is brought is made to work in America and pay up the amount agreed to. And if such Nigerian changes her mind and stops paying, the Embassy official would write to the State Department and immigration to deport such non-cooperating Nigerian illegal immigrant. Sometimes, the Embassy officials use this method to bring into the United State girlfriends, including some underage girls. Ambassador Adefuye has been rumored to have brought in a 15-year old girl as his domestic staff, but kept her as a sex slave in a separate house, about 5 miles away from his home.
There have also been stories, currently under investigation, that Nigerian Embassy official sell confidential information of Americans applying for visas to Nigeria to criminal groups and fraudsters in Nigeria for quite hefty sums. Also, investigation is revealing how Nigerian diplomats abuse the US tax laws by helping the Nigerian friends and government officials to buy things tax free, pretending that they are the ones buying things. One manager of a furniture store in Maryland said to an Elombah.com reporter: There is something strange about the wife of the Nigerian Ambassador. In the past one year, that woman has bought furniture enough to fill twenty houses. She must have a lot of housesâ The trafficking allegations, trade in confidential information of visa applicants and sundry tax fraud by the Nigerian Embassy officials in Washington are under investigation and shall be coming up in Elombah.com report soon.
TO BE CONTINUED
|Re: Amb. Adefunye Involved In DC Visa Scam...// Breaking by aguiyi(m): 3:58pm On Jun 20, 2012|
i knew from onset that something wasnt right hence the action by US govt
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