A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja Nigeria has declared that the earnings and assets accruing to Oil magnate and Aiteo Energy boss, Benedict Peters were acquired legally through legitimate sources. This follows a similar ruling squashing multiple money laundering charges and bribery of election officials indictment against Peters.
Justice Valentine Ashi made the findings on Thursday, 7th of December 2017 whilst pronouncing judgment in proceedings tried before him challenging the provenance and legality of the ownership of assets and properties belonging to the Aiteo boss. There was no evidence to support the suggestion that any aspect of his business showed any criminal conduct and as such, the allegations were baseless.
What really happened?
By proceedings in suit number FCT/HC/CV/ 0091/ 17, the Plaintiff, Moses Uyah alleged that Peters’ acquisition of a number of assets was fraudulent because he was unable to account for income or earnings from which such purchases could have been lawfully funded. In consequence, he asked the court not only to find that Peters’ acquisitions of the properties were illegitimate; that he was also living above his means and that the funds utilized for the purchases were the proceeds of corrupt as well as illegitimate dealings. Given the criminal acquisitions, he asked the court to forfeit the assets to the federal government.
Benedict Peter’s response
Peters, in response, willingly produced to the court evidence to demonstrate his sound business practices over the past 25 years in the oil and gas industry. He also provided evidence from financial institutions for funding raised over several years, which allowed him to invest and conduct business that resulted to the considerable success of Aiteo Group.
Justice Ashi found that on said evidence produced to the court, Peters had established that he had a credible and verifiable means of livelihood; had substantial personal wealth to fund, did legitimately fund the acquisition of the properties identified in the proceedings and therefore could not be accused of living above his means. He established, in the proceedings, that there was no evidence to support the suggestion that any aspect of his business showed any criminal conduct and as such, the plaintiff’s allegations were baseless.
In dismissing the case, Justice Ashi ruled that the “said assets and properties having been legitimately acquired by the defendant cannot be forfeited to the government under any circumstances.”
The judge further ruled “restraining any person, security agency or authority from disturbing the Defendant’s quiet enjoyment of his assets and properties having been found to be legitimately acquired.”
In upholding Peters evidence and contention, the learned judge found that there was no merit in the allegations of criminal conduct relied upon by Uyah and the case as a whole. In doing so, the judge observed: “…that in the absence of any specific offence and proof of commission of crime, the defendant legitimately and lawfully acquired the assets and properties, the subject matter of this suit…”
What were the assets listed in this case?
The assets listed in this case include the following:
- 58 Harley House, Marylebone Road, London worth 2,800,000 million pounds
- Apartment 4, 5, Arlington Street, London worth 11,800,000 million pounds
- Flat 5, 83-86, Prince Albert Road, London worth 3,750,000 million pounds and also
- Other assets of Aiteo Energy Resources worth over $4.023billion
Also listed by and affected by the judgment are monies in the following accounts:
- Account No 105277 in FBN Bank (UK) in the name of Mr B and Mrs N. Peters
- Account No 107127 in FBN Bank (UK) of Walworth Properties Ltd
Also listed by and affected by the judgment are monies in the sum of:
- 36,674.7 pounds held on behalf of defendant in the client Account of Clyde and Co. LLP, London,
- 40,620 pounds held in the correspondent Bank Account at Ghana International Bank, London.
Shares in the following companies were also listed:
- Walworth Properties Limited
- Rosewood Investments
- Colinwood Limited.
What you didn’t know about Aiteo Group
- Aiteo is a downstream oil and gas firm
- It has contributed billions of Naira and millions of US Dollars to the nation’s treasury and led to direct foreign investment worth more than $4 billion.
- It is committed to developing its oil field asset in OML 29 and Nembe Creek Trunk Line, NCTL upstream and building sound business ethics.
- Aiteo maintains headquarters in Lagos, Nigeria and offices in Abuja, Port Harcourt, Warri, London and Geneva.
- The company has become a major player in the oil and gas industry especially in importing and exporting petroleum products in Nigeria.