The federal government has seized a Rockville, Md., house allegedly purchased with corrupt proceeds from a former Nigerian governor, part of the U.S. Department of Justice's three-year crackdown on kleptocracy, the agency said today.
The private residence, valued at more than $700,000, had been purchased with proceeds traceable to Diepreye Solomon Peter Alamieyeseigha, a former governor of an oil-producing state in Nigeria, the Justice Department said. The house is at 504 Pleasant Drive in Rockville.
While Alamieyeseigha's official salary between taking office in 1999 and his impeachment in 2005 was approximately $81,000, he accumulated millions of dollars' worth of property located around the world through corrupt activities, the Justice Department said in court filings.
"Foreign officials who think they can use the United States as a stash-house are sorely mistaken," said Acting Assistant Attorney General Raman, head of the DOJ’s Criminal Division. "Through the Kleptocracy Initiative, we stand with the victims of foreign official corruption as we seek to forfeit the proceeds of corrupt leaders' illegal activities."
Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. announced the initiative in a 2010 speech. The Justice Department has said it is often impractical or impossible to bring a criminal prosecution against a kleptocrat because of jurisdiction issues. But prosecutors can pursue a civil forfeiture action to recover stolen money.
U.S. District Court Judge Roger Titus of the District of Maryland granted a motion for a default judgment on May 24 filed by the criminal division's Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section and issued a final decree of forfeiture. The order extinguishes all prior title and authorizes forfeiture to the United States.