Nigerian Senator, Chimaroke Nnamani, allegedly looted and laundered $41.8 million during his days as Enugu State governor and used the ill-gotten riches to acquire luxury assets in Florida, according to a statement submitted by the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The FBI stated this in a forfeiture proceeding in court documents which were obtained by Peoples Gazette.
The 2009 complaint seen by Peoples Gazette said Nnamani, whom the FBI described as an American citizen, connived with his sister Chinero Nwigwe to steal public funds when he led Enugu State between May 1999 and May 2007.
Peter Mbah, Sam Ejiofor and Chika Ohaa were also named in the court documents as Mr Nnamani’s co-conspirators.
The FBI said Nnamani, a medical doctor, stole $41.868,877.05 in one of several illicit schemes he pulled as Enugu governor. Authorities said the money was about N5.3 billion at the time, but it’s now worth around N31 billion.
The FBI had argued that “Chimaroke Nnamani’s official salary as governor is the equivalent of $10,670 per year; thus, it appears unlikely that Nnamani possesses an adequate source of legitimate income to account for the purchase” of the lush real estate he amassed in Florida.
Judge Williams Acker of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama ordered forfeitures of Nnamani’s assets to the U.S. government after finding that the Nigerian politician was not earning enough as governor to justify the millions of dollars in his possession.
Nnamani, who has recently cut himself as a moral, prudent leader devoid of corrupt practices long typical of a Nigerian politician, did not return.
American authorities further stated that Nnamani was “involved in a scheme to defraud the State of Enugu, Federal Republic of Nigeria, in violation of Nigerian law since at least 2003 and continuing until at least 2005.”
Nnamani opened 20 bank accounts with AmSouth Bank in Orlando, Florida, where he stashed his loot even while serving as governor and was fully aware that it was illegal to maintain bank accounts abroad as an elected public official in Nigeria.
Nnamani had set up a firm Rock City Group, LLC, to carry out the fraud, documents said.
Parts of the stolen funds were used to lock down posh assets in Florida, with authorities stating Nnamani paid $1.8 million in cash to buy his Heathrow residence.
“On February 22, 2007, Nnamani paid a total of $1,800,000 in cash” to buy a proper at 1972 Bridgewater Drive, Heathrow, Florida, filings said.
Following a lengthy trial that began in July 2007, Judge Acker granted the FBI’s request to forfeit all properties linked to Nnamani’s fraud to the U.S. government on May 13, 2009.
It was not immediately clear whether or not Nnamani’s successors tried to pursue repatriation of his loot to the state, which has less than N150 billion in an annual budget that is largely unfunded.
It was also unclear whether or not the FBI filed separate criminal charges against Nnamani, but the Nigerian politician had faced separate forfeiture proceedings in Nigeria and lost, especially in 2015 when a federal judge ordered forfeiture of some multibillion-naira assets linked to him in Nigeria.